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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 chooses”no joy” in the ex-president’s death.
Mugabe died aged 95.
He had been ousted through a military coup at 2017 after years of repression and economic ruin.
“People have been saying perhaps I will have a drink as a toast, but that I have no joy from his death,” Olonga stated.
“In fact, it makes me incredibly sad, because he could have represented, he neglected to scale the peaks of somebody just like Nelson Mandela. He became a megalomaniac, a power-hungry tyrant, a dictator and a guy who subjugated his own people while purporting to be representing them”
Olonga, who now lives in Adelaide, Australia, wore a black armband in the 2003 Cricket World Cup, which has been jointly hosted by Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa in service of a pro-democracy demonstration in Harare.
He had been joined by captain Andy Flower, along with the group issued an announcement to journalists at the Harare Sports Club in which they uttered the”death of democracy” in their symbolism.
The activity made headlines throughout the world – and ended their careers.
Olonga confronted threats, never playing for Zimbabwe and fleeing to England and was exiled from his homeland.
In his presidency Mugabe was praised for broadening access to education and health however later years have been marked by violent repression of his political rivals and the economic ruin of Zimbabwe.
Olonga, the nation’s first black cricketer, stated he’s ready to”give credit where it’s due”.
“He was crucial in helping Zimbabwe achieve its independence and liberty,” Olonga, 43, told PA news agency.
“He also ensured that black men and women who did not possess it in the 1960s and 1970s might be able to votealthough of course the very early elections that the individual Zimbabwe had were discriminated with alleged incidents of voter intimidation and violence.
“He was one of the liberation war heroes and that won’t ever be removed from him. But regrettably the legacy of this guy is that he’ll be remembered as a barbarous tyrant and dictator.”
In 2013, for a special BBC 5 Live programme aired 10 years after the famed black armband protest, former England head coach Flower said a farming friend influenced by Mugabe’s land reforms stated that it had been his”moral responsibility not to really go about his business as normal throughout the World Cup”, which changed his own perspective of Zimbabwe.
Flower knew the odds of engaging the whole team in a demonstration were distant, so he decided to strategy Olonga.
“I believed Henry might grab the notion and have the courage of his own convictions to have a stand,” added Flower.
“I also thought the fact that it would be one white Zimbabwean and one black one operating together gave the concept the most eloquent balance.”
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