Both of them were thrown out from their official team bus in a foreign land without any baggage or money in hand. They were declared traitors in their own country. This is a story of a decade of struggle. A story about two well-established cricketers who gave their lives to save the democracy of their country. This is the story of Henry Olonga and Andy Flower.
History was repeated
NCERT Civics’ book of Class 10 talks about the protest of two athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos against racial discrimination. They were both African-Americans. They received gold and bronze medals respectively for 200m event in the Olympics of 1968 in Mexico City. They wore black socks and gloves, raised their clenched fist as a mark of protest. Another Australian athlete wore a human rights badge supporting them. They knew they are going to face severe consequences but still, they did it. Almost each one of us read this story. History was again repeated after 51 years at Zimbabwe
What happened on February 10, 2003
Nambia made their World Cup debut against Zimbabwe and they lost but that wasn’t the highlight of the match. Two cricketers Henry Olonga and Andy Flower came on-field wearing black armbands. They were mourning the death of democracy in their nation, they said. It was a protest against the rule of Robert Mugabe. Olonga and Andy were declared traitors.
They were well aware of the consequences but still, they went for it. They were thrown out and at the age of 26, Henry had to fetch a new job at some foreign land. He received death threats and social harassment.
In the year 2017, after two decades of struggle Robert Mugabe’s rule was overthrown. And the song from “cricketer in the day time” and “singer at night”, Henry Olonga’s song Our Zimbabwe has almost become a national anthem for the whole nation. It’s heavily broadcasted on radio and TV channels. Once banned the song is now the rhythm of the nation
Once declared traitors Olonga says, “Frankly I don’t think they care about me now. Or I hope they will not. Of course, I am disparaging in my comments about Mugabe, and so why shouldn’t i”. If he had bowed down that day, the new Henry Olonga would have never been born that protested against him. He would have been respected then also. It might have been a very different set of millions back home .”
“Zimbabweans hopes were badly let down by Mugabe and his cronies. It’s a conversation people don’t want to have in Zimbabwe because you’re not allowed to. How’s he different from Kim Jong-Un,” said Olonga.