Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Olonga Adamant Tour Should Be Called Off


Olonga Adamant Tour Should Be Called Off

By Kevin List - Scoop Chief Reporter

Zimbabwe’s first black test cricketer Henry Olonga.

**************************

Zimbabwe’s first black test cricketer Henry Olonga, surmised that ‘life would be very uncomfortable’ should he return to Zimbabwe. Mr Olonga, who now lives in England, famously wore a black armband to protest the ‘death of democracy’ during the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Olonga's stand meant he cannot return to Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe remains in power. His protest is a lonely vigil with only one other Zimbabwean cricketer having chosen to join his protest – arguably Zimbabwe’s finest batsman ever - Andy Flower.

Olonga is on a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand - organised by the Green Party. He explained at a press conference in Wellington the difficulties faced when sport and politics intersect – especially in Zimbabwe.

“It is very difficult to stand up in Zimbabwe if you are a black player and a young player as well…You must remember that a lot of them are from low income families and playing cricket for Zimbabwe is a huge step up for them - they get vehicles, they get mobile phones and good salaries. They are unlikely to rock the boat,” he said.

Mr Olonga considered there would be more resistance to a tour by the white Zimbabwean players.

“It is very likely they will feel aggrieved by what is happening in the country. I used to live with two white players so I don’t have a racist bone in my body – the Government called white people 'enemies of the state'.

“I think it is almost as if the Government is deliberately polarising the nation along racial lines,” he said.

The example of Heath Streak and his farm ownership was brought up.

“He [Heath Streak] lost his farm and then they made him captain of the team and he said he was only going to be captain of the team if he got his farm back and it kinda happened…he got his farm back.”

Whilst Mr Olonga explained that while some people questioned Heath Streak’s motives and convictions as to what was happening in Zimbabwe, he wasn’t one of them.

"I really think he’s a great guy. I’ve known him and played with him through Matabeleland for many years.”

Mr Olonga was definitely not in agreement with ACT MP Stephen Franks who put out a press release today following a Beehive briefing with Mr Olonga.

[ I asked Henry Olonga what assessments had been made comparing the one day wonder impact of a tour cancellation with the daily embarrassment that our cricketers could generate for Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

“To the obvious chagrin of Rod Donald the honest Mr Olonga explained that there were very mixed feelings in Zimbabwe. Some opposition MDC MPs in Zimbabwe, for example, hope the tour goes ahead because it will mean journalists must be allowed entry to cover it and even the tightest security will make news itself. The outcome could be continual world attention that at present can’t happen,” stated Mr Franks.]

Mr Olonga cleared up any confusion about his feelings on the tour.

“My position is pretty consistent. I think the tour should be called off. It should be the start of a snowball effect of a whole heap of measures put in place to bring some reforms,” he said.

Mr Olonga accepted that should the tour go ahead, the glare of publicity may be beneficial to the movement for democracy within Zimbabwe. He was however rather less optimistic about these intangible benefits than Mr Franks.

Mr Olonga explained that when Australia recently toured Zimbabwe, statements made by Australian cricketers were used by the Mugabe regime for propaganda purposes.

“Robert Mugabe is a pretty arrogant man and he has up until now done nothing but scorn the media and the West which tries to put pressure on him to reform."

As patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union If the tour were called off it would be perceived as a "slap in his face and would embarrass him,” he said.

South Africa's position has disappointed Olonga: “I am always surprised at why South Africa isn’t taking a stronger stand.”

South Africa was not the only cricket playing nation burying its head in the sand over the issue of playing cricket in Zimbabwe however: “I believe that cricket playing nations, apart from New Zealand, Australia and England, have no desire of any kind for strong condemnation of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Olonga has been getting up early and working till late to get his message opposing the tour out. As someone who has lost the ability to live in his homeland following his protest, his message to New Zealanders, and especially politicians who think sport and politics shouldn’t mix, was blunt.

“Shame on us if we don’t try and attempt to get some headway on this issue,” he said.

**************************


Click for big version

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news