By Emeka Dennar
With a direct flight from Lagos to Kigali, it wouldn’t have been more than 5 hrs but it lasted for approximately 10hrs and 20minutes, many thanks to a stopover at the beautiful Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
The annoying part was watching less than 20 minutes of Nigeria’s big win over Niger on TV when I was supposed to be at the stadium for the game. Did I miss a lot? No, at least I saw the Kolanut Boy; Chisom Chikatara score two out of his hattrick and the drama of the referee denying the youngster the match ball, even though the Abia Warriors man later got it.
I’ve heard several stories of passengers missing out on some wonderful moments ignorantly while on international trips, so I vowed never to toe that line. It meant I had to at least taste whatever was on offer whether it is something I’m familiar with or not.
Save for a little bit of turbulence, it was a smooth and enjoyable flight to Kigali enroute Nairobi.
We finally touched down at the Kigali International Airport at about 12midnight local time; an hour ahead of Nigeria.
They say it is a land of a thousand Hills and they were not wrong. Kigali in particular is full of valleys and hilly topography with beautiful trees and flowers virtually everywhere, an observation I made on DAY 1(19th January,2016) of my Rwandan experience.
To think that the country has witnessed such a transformation, 22 years after one of the worst genocide in the world took place there, is simply amazing.
Of course, I did not come to Rwanda to admire the beautiful environment. Coverage of the 4th edition of the Championship for African Nations (CHAN) was the basic reason that brought me to the East African nation.
To achieve that, certain things needed to be in place. One of those is securing my Confederation of African Football (CAF) accreditation tag which will give me access to match venues and press briefings amongst other media functions. The other is getting connected to the internet, needless to say what internet can do for a journalist these days. As a result, I visited the MTN center and after several hours of trying to resolve a network issue on my computer, I got connected.
One thing achieved, the next was to get the CAF accreditation tag at the Federation Rwandaise de Football Association (FERWAFA) near Amahoro International stadium. The entire process did not last up to 5minutes and because there were at least 10 people on ground to issue tags to approved journalists.
I will talk about motor bikes in Kigali much later but my next port of call was Mumena stadium to watch the home-based Super Eagles undergo a light training session; a day after the emphatic 4-1 victory over Niger.
The boys who started the game only had to jog round the pitch for about 20minutes under the supervision of goalkeeper trainer Alloy Agu and ex-international Tijani Babangida while Sunday Oliseh, recuperating Jean Francois Loscuito and Salisu Yusuf drilled the rest including Chisom Chikatara on ball-work and shooting. The session lasted for about an hour.
After a 5-minute parley with Oliseh, it was time to migrate to the Hill View Hotel and Apartments; where the team is camped. At the Hotel, I met other colleagues who also came to look for what to report back home. Another parley with the players after their dinner led to my departure with CoolWazobiaInfo’s duo of Kelechi Nkoro and Ufuoma Egbamuno, the latter just like me, defied the odds to be in Rwanda for CHAN 2016.
We had to look for food to eat and unwind as well, after all, ‘person body no be firewood’. Ufuoma and Nkoro had earlier visited this Mall called UTC, so they led the way and thereafter, I had to go home not to sleep immediately but to first put together what you just read.
DAY 2 will most likely be unpredictable!
Port Harcourt based, Emeka Dennar is covering the Africa Nations Championships, CHAN for Naijafootball247.com and Today 95.1 FM in Port Harcourt.