By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
This morning, Jessica Amadi called me to remind me of her predicament. She's been starving herself since she set foot in Cameroon and she told me that yesterday she had survived on only a bottle of groundnut.
Jessica can literarily write a book on the delicacies she has had to taste and dump, starting from the "perfumed rice" that welcomed her to town. Plus her futile search for a Nigerian restaurant. And here I was thinking I was worse.
She needed me to buy biscuit and water for her on my way to the stadium. But as a good Samaritan that I am, I decided to make further enquiries about where we can get Nigerian food. But Tracy confirmed that it would be difficult to locate one in Limbe.
After going back and forth, we settled for the option of cooking in Tracy's house, so I can take some food to her at the stadium.
Tracy's elder sister, Solange, went to the market. So she bought things for egusi (melon) soup. I used grinding stone (that I have dodged in different quarters) for the first time in my life to grind crayfish, (I cannot play that kind of rough play with their pepper, biko, not when I can't even scratch my eyes with my hand in peace anymore).
Solange helped me grind the pepper. They had suggested I put it in the pot of soup like that, so that anyone eating could mash it in their plate, but I didn't think Jessica was ready for that.
Well, I cooked for the second time in Cameroon, and every one that ate commended me. I dished out Jessica's food before getting ready for the stadium.
At about 2:45, Tracy's brother saw me off to where I took a bike, so I could get to the stadium faster.
The bike man did not have his ID card, so he dodged the first check point by taking another route, which still had a checkpoint. At that point, I regretted not asking him for his ID before getting on his motorcycle, knowing the kind of security that would be at the stadium.
I thought explaining that I was a journalist and showing my tag would help us pass, but that did not work as the officer insisted on the motorcyclist's national ID card.
The bike man gave all sorts of excuses and lies too, but to no avail. In the end, he still had to bribe the police officer with CFA 500 before he let us pass. He took the money from me. So I gave him 500 more when I got to my destination.
When we got close to the stadium, the policemen guarding the area would not let us use the hilly road that leads to the main entrance. They signaled that we should keep moving forward. There is another gate up front. I tried to tell the bike man that, but he would not listen. So I had to stop in front of that hilly road and started walking up.
Oh my! It was my first time of climbing up, I had only climbed down. For close to 30 minutes I was walking and sweating.
It felt like I had two bags of cement on my feet. I flagged down two vehicles, but after the snub, I carried my cross. Remember, I still had Jessica's food with me.
I eventually got into the stadium four minutes into the match between Nigeria and Ghana. I kept Jessica's food at the media working area, which is opposite the press conference room. I didn't want an 'all eyes on me' scenario when walking up to the media tribune inside the stadium.
Nigerian fans were not as many as they were in the match against Mali, but they were loud as usual. However they had real competition from their Ghanaian counterparts. This played out on the pitch as well, with both sides sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Ghana were obviously the happier of the two teams with the draw, but their task of qualifying for the knockout round got a lot harder after their next opponent, Mali, defeated Kenya 3-1 in the other match of the day. Time and time again, Kenya were denied by the Malian goal keeper.
After the press conference of the last match, Jessica and I joined the CAF bus for journalists going to Buea.
It was today I knew that CAF provided buses for journalists. We alighted at a roundabout before getting another bus going to her hotel.
Victoria Guest House Hotel - Whatever has been making me call it Victoria Garden hotel.
We were chatting until Janine arrived. So both of them ate the Eba and Egusi soup. Afterwards, we continued our gist into the night, while working in between. I spent the night at the hotel.