By Jacob Ajom
Once reverred and high in demand here in Garoua, the Super Eagles jersey suffered its worst form of rejection from football fans after the Nigerian flagbearers bowed out of the Africa Cup of Nations following their defeat to Tunisia, Sunday.
Soon after the referee’s whitsle signalling the end of the match, some fans, particularly thos in the popular stand, began removing the jersey which had won to the stadium, from their bodies. Some others who had extra clothes, quickly put them on to cover the Nigerian jersey.
It was the same story on the streets, where thousands of Garoua residents had, in solidarity with Nigeria worn the Super Eagles jersey.
That is how life is. When one is succeeding, many people admire him, but in defeat, one is alone. That was the story of the Super Eagles in Garoua, Sunday night..
The good side of Garoua
Yes, Garoua is expensive. There are no taxis here. Okada is one major form of transport here. But their Okada(Commercial motorcycle) riders are generally cheats. Once they know you are a stranger, they want to practically sweep your pocket clean.
However, there are numerous good sides of Garoua. I do not know how the government in Cameroon has been able to achieve it, the light(power supply) here has been as constant as the Northern Star. It has not blinked for one second since my arrival here. Each time I return to my rented apartment and I switch on the light, it has always been there. You put it off, sleep and wake any time of the night, the light is there waiting for you. Amd I marvel. Why can’t Nigeria get it right as it affects electricity.
In some parts of Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, electricity distribution companies still share light among residents– one day on, one day off. Who do us this thing?
Another good side is the good road network. Most of the major roads are well laid out and tarred. Sources say most of the work was done because of the ongoing Afcon. Does that matter?
Nigerians in Garoua
There are so many Nigerians in Garoua. Many of them have never stepped their feet on Nigerian soil. Some were only told that their great grand parents were Nigerians. It has become so distant tht such people have lost all links with their country of origin. Yet the Nigerian spirit hardly diminish in them.
The case of Alhaji Hassan Badamasi is quite handy here. In a chat with Sports Vanguard at his office, Badamasi said his great-grand father, the original Badamasi originated from Ibadan. He came to Garoua about two centuries ago. He was a very rich slave merchant.
“He would come buy slaves from Garoua and other surrounding towns, ship them through the River Benue to Port Harcourt.”
Badamasi said his great grand father became so popular that he decided to settle in Garoua. The Badamasi has a street named after him in Garoua: Rue Alhaji Badamasi in central Garoua. He traced their lineage to his grand father down to his own father.
He told me that it was not only his family from Nigeria that decided to remain in Garoua. “We have so many people here from Nigeria, especially people from Anambra state. Many of them are here dealing in motor soare parts.”
There are others in different trades, including artisans and okada riders.
That was why the Roumde Adjia stadium was always filled with Super Eagles jersey bearing fans, waving the Nigerian flag. We actually have a huge chunk of our population out here.