Fiona Ruzha, Sports Reporter
…I was detained in Sudan
…I won’t repeat road trip
…’I’m still the same Aluvah’
AVID senior national soccer team fan Alvin “Aluvah” Zhakata is no doubt one of the country’s most sought after celebrities at the moment.
This follows his successful and yet taxing Cape to Cairo adventure for the just ended 2019 AFCON tournament.
Although he missed the Warriors games after he arrived late after enduring the 10000km road trip, he still managed to win hearts of many both locally and abroad.
His 44-year day trip was not a stroll in the park as he endured a lot.
H-Metro reporter FIONA RUZHA chatted with the super fan who opened up on the trip he endured along with South African counterpart Botha Msila, who pulled out.
Q: How was the Cape to Cairo adventure?
A: The trip was physically, psychologically and financially taxing.
I never really got enough rest throughout and this strained my body and mind.
I was never at optimal because I was always thinking “so what’s next?” and at some point I even said my last prayers as I thought I was going to die.
Q: Any problems encountered along the way and budget for the journey?
A: The money that I had budgeted for was gobbled by unplanned visa applications, bribes, tips, theft, at some point conmen, accommodation, food just to mention only a few.
I even had to incur dents along the way because in some parts of this continent there are no Western Union branches to access the funds raised by well-wishers that had created an account with the purpose of cushioning us.
I also had to keep changing cards and currency at borders and at one point I was given fake money in Sudan.
Q: How did you manage to adopt to the diet?
A: I had difficulties with the diet starting from Tanzania.
The diet just changed from Sadza/Ncima to Ugali.
I kept asking for sadza but they did not know anything called sadza.
Menus came written in local languages and I could not read.
Sometimes, I had to walk around the restaurant to see someone eating a meal I preferred and then pin point for the waitress to see.
Q: How did you acclimatise as you passed through different countries to reach the final destination?
A: Again, it was not easy because from the subzero temperatures of Cape Town to the rainy season in Ethiopia to the searing heat of Sudan.
Q: What was the most scary thing you encountered along the way?
A: When I was detained by Sudanese militia.
Well I do not really want to talk about it, at the moment.
The detention was brief maybe just about 16 to 30 minutes but seemed like an eternity.
Q: At one point did you think of cancelling the trip? If so what had happened?
A: I never thought of cancelling the trip. I said to myself ‘it is better to get to Egypt in 2020 than to abort my trip’.
Q: Were you doing it for fun or you wanted to break the records?
A: Both for fun and records. It was my dream to achieve what no other person had achieved.
Q: How did you come up with the concept to travel by road?
A: I once travelled to Rwanda in 2016 and the adventure was eye opening so I thought this time was the best to take it to another level.
Q: If you were given airfares, were you going to continue by road?
A: A lot of people (including prominent business people and high ranking politicians) asked me to go to the nearest airport so that they book a flight because they were saying it’s not safe but I ignored the offers.
I just wanted to achieve my goal and giving up on a long held dream was never an option.
Q: You missed Warriors matches, how did you feel?
A: Of course, I was disappointed but it could have been more disappointing if I had aborted the road trip to take a flight then three games later Warriors are eliminated.
Q: What can you say about the reception you got when coming home?
A: Honestly, I never expected such a rousing welcome many thanks to Romario who coordinated.
Q: As a trend-setter when it comes to supporting national teams, what more can we expect from you when the Warriors qualify for other tournaments?
A: I will always travel for my Warriors and significant other national teams, but not by road. I’m done now.
Q: In as far as promoting Zimbabwe brand, what role does sport have?
A: Football is a good vehicle for promoting national brands. Look at all the publicity I got from international media and I believe the Zimbabwean flag was seen in good light.
Q: What’s your appreciation of cheerleaders of your stature back home and abroad?
A: Cheerleaders can be very influential and can help build or even destroy national brands.
But it’s unfortunate that we are not recognised or rather we are overlooked. When Zimbabwe played Congo I went to ZIFA for tickets and they denied me one.
Q: How do you come up with some of the compositions you sing before, during and after soccer matches?
A: Most of the songs are church hymns and I just change the lyrics but the tune is the same.
Some are liberation war cries while some just pop up in my head.
Q: How do you handle fame?
A: Honesty, I’m quite struggling, my phone is inundated with calls from different media houses wanting interviews, some would think I’m avoiding them but I’m just not used to this kind of pressure.
I am even struggling to attend to my WhatsApp and people are already saying wakuvhaira because wava celebrity.
But I’m not a celebrity really, I’m just the same Alvin who has captured the attention of everyone across the globe after the Cape to Cairo Expedition.
Q: How do you handle ladies who throw themselves at you?
A: Well, I’m a charming and charismatic character.
A lot of ladies have always been trying their luck but I know my limits, I’m not into Casanova so I know how to keep a friend zone distance. I actually have more female friends than male.
Q: Your piece of advice to would-be cheerleaders?
A: Most people are of the notion that being an avid, passionate fan is a symptom of hurombe, but football is the most beautiful game.
If you love it, let no one tell you to stop following your passion, one day CAF may just recognise you, or even FIFA.
Q: Thanks for your chat.
A: You are welcome.