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AROUND AFRICA FOR THE LOVE OF THE WARRIORS

WARRIORS’ well known supporter, Alvin “Aluvha” Zhakata celebrated wildly when the Zimbabwe national team scored its fourth goal against a stubborn Swaziland at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago. BY JOHN MOKWETSI,ONLINE EDITOR

But soon his smile disappeared into something that looked like a grimace, when he recalls that he has travelled to nine countries since January, but only saw one goal from his favourite team.

In Swaziland, he travelled by road through South Africa, a trip that took four days to and fro, and had hurdles in-between, with the notable one being the breakdown of the vehicle he was traveling in.

He sighs as he speaks: “It has been a affair that has required obsessive love. I have loved this team with a passion 20 000 fans put together can never equal, but the sad part is that my Warriors despite fighting valiantly have not given me goals and when I include my favourite local club Dynamos in the equation, where some strikers, who also play for the Warriors, it is sadder because they have been misfiring.”

Singing and always cheerful and acknowledged, as well as loved by the footballers, Zhakata has only seen one goal — scored in Rwanda — a trip he made by road for five days. Zimbabwe was in Rwanda to compete in the 2016 Orange African Nations Championship finals.

“Rwanda was not an easy trip. I passed through Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Tanzania. On my return, I passed through Ethiopia. It was agonising to see us crash out so early because there was so much to expect. Sadly, that was to be the only goal I would see from our own player,” he said.

It took 49 minutes for William Manondo to score for Zimbabwe in a dead rubber that ended in a one-all scoreline against an unimaginative Uganda.

“With that I headed back home hoping for another day,” Zhakata said.

“It had been a long trip that ended in tragedy. I was to leave for Malawi to watch Dynamos play against Nyasa Bullets, where we lost the first game and drew nil all the second match. Nobody scored, not even the Warriors striker Rodrick Mutuma and I wondered if I was cursed. I had passed by road through Mozambique for that match.”

In Swaziland, the Warriors fan, some say is more passionate than any other, stood alone waving a hand to the coach, who acknowledged by waving back.

He had travelled through South Africa to watch the Warriors take on Swaziland in the Africa Cup of Nations first leg qualifier that ended 1-1, with the men’s team failing to score and only getting their goal through an own goal.

“It was a gift of goal that unfortunately did not come from the boot of any of my warriors. They fought bravely and it is good we did not lose,” Zhakata said.

Asked about his perception of Africa, he remembers Mozambique and Malawi with an almost philosophical mind.

“Africa replicates itself in many ways. It speaks of valleys and rivers that we cling to that feed our livelihoods.

Yet even in the sameness of our life there is a familiarity common to the mind in the underlying unhappiness one notices in the small poverty that is built around the mud huts of Mozambique and the tattered clothes they wear with a smile,” he said.

“Africa smiles in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems. The contradiction of the pothole-free road from Nyamapanda to the Malawi border and the chaos of clustered houses that are built without as much as architectural planning amid a maize crop suffering from starved rain are apparent,” he said.

Perhaps Zhakata was talking about the poverty one sees along the highway, where young girls and boys shout for survival to sell charcoal so that a hot plate can be realised.

It is a sad story so familiar to most African countries that are still to distribute wealth equally.

He speaks of the bizarre that he saw in Swaziland: “I have seen a lot when it comes to football. People who believe in juju so much that sights of snakes and snuff are so common that it no longer scares me. But if at all I have seen different cultures it was Swaziland that shocked me.

“There is a bay at Somhlolo National Stadium, which is a multi-purpose stadium in Lobamba, Mbabane adjacent to a mountain, where royalty is buried and only a heap of soil marks a sitting place.

“Apparently, I discovered that there are no seats built on that bay because it would be regarded as disrespect to sit with your back to the mountain where kings are buried,” Zhakata said.

“And the VVIP section is only reserved for the king and his relatives.”

Zhakata said: “Guinea is far, but I must be there and the Warriors must score.”

 

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