While it took him 50 days to travel from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo on road for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Egypt 2019, it will take Zimbabwean fan Alvin Zhakata a less tiring 16 hours to travel back home to Harare after being handed a flight ticket back home by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
Zhakata was the talk of social media after he arrived in Egypt last week, 50 days after starting a hitch-hiking adventure to watch the Africa Cup of Nations and president Ahmad caught wind of the story and decided to hand the young man a ticket home.
To top a pretty cherry on a well baked cake, Zhakata who met the president on Wednesday morning will get a VIP ticket to watch Friday night’s final between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium.
“I feel so privileged and honored to have met the CAF president. This is no small thing because he is the highest in the echelon of African football,” Zhakata told Cafonline.
“After all I went through for 50 days, all I endured trying to cross all those borders and the frustrations and now seeing the president himself come and hand me this gift, I really feel thankful. I feel like I have made an impact in African football,” Zhakata said.
The Zimbabwean saw his journey prolonged by visa hitches crossing over from Kenya to Ethiopia and later from Sudan to Egypt, all caused by political protests that were experienced coincidentally at the same time in Ethiopia and Sudan.
He arrived in Cairo on the day South Africa were eliminated by Nigeria in the quarter finals and long after his favorite Warriors were boxed out of the competition. The following day, his third preferred team Madagascar lost to Tunisia in the quarters.
But despite the football on the field not favouring his sacrifice, Zhakata says he feels more than proud to have achieved the feat that few people have boasted of achieving.
“I was planning to raise some funds to go back home because the journey took longer than expected and along the way I accumulated so much debt. But now, at least I can relax easy and enjoy some football. I am going home with a prestigious airline!” said an excited Zhakata.
He plans to leave for Zimbabwe next week Thursday as he plans to travel to the Red Sea, a symbolic place in the Biblical story of the Israelites journey from Egypt to their promised land. While the Israelites took 40 years to get home, Zhakata took 50 days and he believes the two are symbolic.
“I need to go there to visit the place, say my prayer and mark another great day in my life. I believe it is symbolic,” he added.
Zhakata also said he has presented a petition to Ahmad to forward to the African Union on African travelling within the continent and visa requirements after his experiences.