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Zimbabwe’s first black Test cricketer Henry Olonga, who had been forced to flee the state after protesting against Robert Mugabe, says he takes”no joy” in the ex-president’s passing.
Mugabe died aged 95 on Friday.
He had been ousted through a military coup at 2017 years of repression and economic ruin.
“People have been saying maybe I’ll have a drink for a toast, however that I have no joy from his death,” Olonga said.
“In fact, it makes me unbelievably sad, because he might have represented, he neglected to scale the heights of someone like Nelson Mandela. He became a megalomaniac, a power-hungry tyrant, a dictator and a man who subjugated his own people while purporting to be representing them.”
Olonga, who lives in Adelaide, Australia, wore a black armband in support of a demonstration in Harare at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, which had been hosted by Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa.
He was joined by captain Andy Flower, along with the pair issued an announcement to journalists at the Harare Sports Club where they denounced the”death of democracy” in their homeland.
The action made headlines – and ended their careers.
Olonga was exiled from his homeland and faced death threats, visiting England rather than playing for Zimbabwe.
In his presidency Mugabe has been commended for gaining entry to education and health however after years have been marked by violent repression of the political opponents and the economic ruin of Zimbabwe.
Olonga, the country’s first black cricketer, stated he’s able to”give credit where it’s due”.
“He had been critical in helping Zimbabwe achieve its independence and freedom,” Olonga, 43, informed PA news bureau.
“He also ensured that black folks who did not possess it in the 1960s and 1970s would have the right to votealthough of course even the very first elections that the individual Zimbabwe had were discriminated with alleged incidents of voter intimidation and violence.
“He was one of the liberation war heroes which won’t ever be taken away from him. But regrettably the heritage of this guy is that he will be remembered as a vicious tyrant and dictator.”
In 2013, for a special BBC 5 Live programme aired 10 years after the renowned black armband protest, former England head coach Flower reported a farming buddy influenced by Mugabe’s land reforms said that it had been his”moral duty to not really move about his business as normal during the World Cup”, and that this altered his own opinion of Zimbabwe.
Flower understood that the chances of engaging the whole team in a protest were remote, so he decided to approach Olonga.
“I thought Henry may grab the concept and have the courage of his own convictions to have a stand,” additional Flower.
“I thought the simple fact that it would be one white Zimbabwean and one black one working together gave the concept the most eloquent balance.”
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