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Diaries of an AFCON reporter - My last hurrah and my first impressions of Cameroon

Daniel Oduro1 Daniel Oduro is covering the 2021 AFCON for GhanaWeb

Sun, 9 Jan 2022 Source: Daniel Oduro

It’s Sunday, January 9, 2022. I have barely eaten; my eyes are shutting at the slightest opportunity mainly from lack of sleep in almost 24 hours. I know I need a bath but there is so much to do and I already made you a promise to do this so this is me keeping my word at the risk of my health and sanity.

Today, January 9, 2022, may not mean much to you but it does for a lot of us. For those of us who follow African football and have made a career out of it, this day is significant. It is the opening day of the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations and it is the beginning of what is most likely going to be a festival of the finest form of African football for the next four weeks.

Every journalist dreams of covering big tournaments and the AFCON is the biggest on the continent. Handled and covered well, a journalist could have his or her breakthrough and this is why it matters to us.

I am privileged to be covering my fifth Africa Cup of Nations (Jeez that made me feel so old. Lol) and something tells me it could be my last. I am not dying, come on.

I just feel it is time to give the younger colleagues in my office a chance to experience it too. This year marks my 13th year following the Black Stars as a journalist, and I have had my highs and lows. I have cried and cheered for the Black Stars and experienced every bit of the emotions they go through. I remember sitting in shock and disbelief at the Bata Sports Stadium in Equatorial Guinea when Ghana lost the 2017 AFCON final to Ivory Coast despite taking a 2-0 advantage during the penalty kicks. It was the closest I had seen the Black Stars come in the numerous attempts to win a 5th AFCON. That pain still cuts deep and that day I saw Andre Ayew weep like a baby and it broke my heart even more.

Anyways, it is a new chapter, a new tournament with an almost new team and once again I am here to witness what becomes of the Black Stars' quest to win the AFCON again after 40 years of trying.

In the next one month (that is if the Black Stars stay for that long) I will walk you through what covering the AFCON is like sharing my personal triumphs, challenges and general stay in Cameroun with you. Hopefully, you enjoy it. Here goes.

Day One:

Travelling is so tedious these days, gosh. The excessive covid testing and the dread you have to deal with hoping your result will not turn up positive and ruin everything for you is so unreal. But it is the times we live in and so whatshawasey (what shall I say? Lol). Lucky me, did my test on Saturday morning and by the same afternoon the result was in and I was negative. Such relief.

I am not a big fan of group travelling, and in my 13 years of journalism practice, I have never travelled with a group to an AFCON or any other tournament before. But this year I did. It isn’t bad except there can be undue delays and you are never fully aware of what to expect and not being in control of events, especially in matters that concern me drives me crazy. Yeah, literally.

By 9 pm I and a group of journalists were at the airport, others arrived earlier. The communication was simple, our flight was to leave at 1 am Sunday dawn but check-in started at 8pm the night before. Those who got to the airport earlier endured worse because from 9pm when I arrived, I was on my feet until 1am, going through check-in, and the airport staff validating our covid results among others until the flight left Accra. Where is the fun in this?

Thankfully, this isn’t a long flight if you are not doing any layovers so within 2 hours 30minutes we were in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon – the host nation of the 2021 AFCON.

It’s my first time in Cameroon. I am not expecting a Dubai-esq kinda infrastructure but men, this country could do a lot better, waaaay better and the Covid-19 testing at the airport????? Let me shelve it for our next episode.

In the next episode, I will share my first impressions of the city, the covid-19 testing chaos at the airport and oh I will also speak about the food and the ladies. No worries.

Send me feedback of what you think via my Twitter handle @daniel_oduro

GhanaWeb’s 2021 AFCON coverage is supported by Ice Gold Mineral Water

Source: Daniel Oduro