Henry Olonga, trailblazing ex-Zim cricketer, becomes citizen of fourth different country
WORLD-FAMOUS former Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga has announced finally becoming an Australian citizen after having lived Down Under for over a decade and married to Aussie Tara (nee Read), with who he has two children.
46-year-old Olonga – the first black player in history to play international cricket for Zimbabwe – has been living in Australia since 2015, 11 years after fleeing Zimbabwe for Britain following a famous protest against Robert Mugabe’s tyrannical government.
At the 2003 World Cup that Zimbabwe co-hosted, Olonga and his teammate Andy Flower gained international recognition by wearing black armbands in the match against Namibia at Harare Sports Club, to “mourn the death of democracy” in Zimbabwe under the leadership of Mugabe.
The great Flower has since returned to his native Zimbabwe for a visit following Mugabe’s ouster on a coup in 2017, but Olonga – who has now described himself as a “Brit” following acquisition of yet another citizenship in his eventful lifetime – has not set foot back home yet.
Ex-fast bowler Olonga could well be entitled to five nationalities. He was born in Zambia to a Kenyan surgeon father and a Zimbabwean mother, and raised up in Zimbabwe, the country he pledged allegiance to for most of his life until politics changed everything in 2003. When Olonga left Zimbabwe in the black armband storm, he became a British citizen after living there for 12 years, and now he has been granted his Aussie papers after living there since 2015.
The multi-talented Olonga, also a musician, announced the new development on Tuesday after participating in an exhibition athletics competition Down Under.
“Firstly I took part in the South Australian state Athletics champs Sunday and won a gold in the over 35s shot putt – (I was the only entrant LOL) and silver in Jav just losing to a 35 year old. On Monday I became a fully-fledged Australian. As a Brit I am now truly confused who to support in the Ashes now. Ahhhh well perhaps the winning side,” quipped Olonga.
Olonga was a gifted all-round sportsman at school, attending Plumtree High School, about 90 kilometres away from his hometown of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city.
Away from the cricket field, Olonga excelled in rugby and was also a top-notch sprinter so much that he once visualised himself representing Kenya in athletics at the Olympic Games.
His older brother Victor Olonga is a former Zimbabwe rugby captain, now permanently based in Bulawayo for over a decade now, after playing professionally for years in the UK.-STAFF WRITER