Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
DAREDEVIL Zimbabwean football fan Alvin “Aluvha’’ Zhakata who completed a 44-day 10 000km Cape to Cairo road trip to watch the AFCON finals, says his passion has always driven him to move mountains, including dicing with death, as was the case when he walked into a political firestorm in Sudan.
For the first time since his stunning transformation into one of the continent’s biggest celebrity football fans, Aluvha has revealed he really felt he was going to die, after being caught up in the crossfire in the political unrest in Sudan.
But, Aluvha, who has charmed the global football world and transformed himself into a celebrity and received a special invitation from CAF president Ahmad Ahmad to watch last night’s AFCON final between Senegal and Algeria in Cairo, says it’s all part of the adventure and — given another opportunity — he will do it again.
“There are two sides to Aluvha,’’ he told The Herald.
“’There is passion and there is adventure. The two sides merged and bore this idea that I should do this Cape to Cairo journey.
“I knew I might not have another a chance, because the AFCON finals might not be played in Egypt again any time soon. I did my research on the Internet, and from guys based in countries through which I intended to travel, and I came out with a blueprint.
’This has always been my passion, remember I made another road trip from Harare to Rwanda when the Warriors played at the CHAN finals there.
‘’I have travelled to most parts in Africa as a football ambassador, to date I have been to 29 countries, at one point in 2012, I went to Mozambique for the Dynamos/Liga Muculmana match without a passport.
‘’At the border I hid in one of the drums, it might sound fictitious, but that’s what happened and I took my chance and got through to cheer my team.
‘’This road trip is definitely not new to me.’’
The 32-year-old Zimbabwean nurse says it was never his intention to try and gain fame from his Cape to Cairo adventure but, simply, to satisfy a passion to do something different for the game that has been a part of his life since his father took him to a football stadium as a six-year-old.
But, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, where he arrived at a time when the city was the heart of massive street protests, Aluvha says he confronted his scariest moment and, for a moment, really believed he was going to die.
Ironically, he also says, the same city provided him with his best moment of his adventure.
‘’My scariest moment was when I was briefly detained and tortured by Sudanese soldiers and 15 to 30 minutes seemed like an eternity,’’ he told The Herald yesterday.
‘’What I saw there, I really thought, wow, I am going to die and I even said my last prayers to the Lord to forgive all my sins.
‘’Well, I’m not yet ready to share the traumatising details of what happened during that time because that is the story for another day but I can assure you that I’m going to provide it at the right time and from the right place.
‘’I don’t want it to be the main story right now, because there are a lot of other positive stories and, interestingly, it was also in Khartoum that I enjoyed what I feel was my best moment and it came when I finally received my Egyptian visa.
‘’I had spent nine days, stuck in that country, and the great staff at the Zimbabwe Embassy in Sudan flexed their muscles and took matters into their hands to ensure that I would get all the documents I needed to complete my journey.
‘’When, I finally got my visa, I screamed, jumped, pumped my first into the air while everyone just looked at me. It was a fitting ending, really, because I can tell you that I found the people of Sudan to have been the warmest, the best, of all the hosts I passed through in my journey.’’
The nine days he spent in Sudan were also the most traumatic for his family and those who were following his adventure on social media given, due the internet issues in that country during those days, it meant Aluvha was unable to keep his constituency informed of his movements.
That sent many, including his family and manager into panic mode.
’We are concerned, as a family, about Alvin’s safety,’’ his brother, Ivan, told The Herald back then. ‘’The last time we checked on him, he was in Khartoum but it’s now two weeks without hearing from him.’’
And his manager, Promise Chabata, a Zimbabwean banker based in South Africa, was also having sleepless nights.
‘’No sign from the Zimbabwe embassy in both Ethiopia and Sudan, maybe it’s because the internet is still down in Sudan,’’ Chabata told this newspaper.
‘’What bothers me the most is the fact that I had a fallout with Aluvha as I tried to talk him into flying into Egypt as the money was there.
‘’I had seen that the challenges were becoming too big to overcome within the timelines we had worked on. I pray to God all will be well.’’
Of course, it all ended well.
What Chabata probably didn’t know was the feisty character he was dealing with.
‘’I received a lot of messages from people who said they were concerned about my safety and like Botha (Msila, the South African celebrity fan whose adventure ended at the Ethiopian border), I should give up and go back to Nairobi and then fly to Egypt,’’ said Aluvha.
‘’But, I said I wasn’t going to do that, I didn’t want any shortcuts, I was determined to complete my mission and nothing was going to stop me.’’
Aluvha said when he embarked on his mission, he never thought it would generate such a buzz and transform him into someone who could be invited to meet the CAF president and be praised for his love for the game.
A rebel from the word go, Aluvha went against the wishes of his father, who supported CAPS United and who took him to his first matches, and settled for Dynamos.
The second born, in a family of five, he says he comes from a humble and strict Catholic family, grew up in Harare and always wanted to be a footballer although his small frame kept working against him.
That’s when, he says, he decided to become a football fan.
Today, virtually the entire continent knows about Aluvha and, he told The Herald yesterday, his adventure is just beginning.