Blood, Sweat and Treason

International cricketer Henry Olonga put his life on the line for his convictions. He was forced to flee his native Zimbabwe after mounting a brave protest against the government of Robert Mugabe during a World Cup match in 2003.

Henry told his incredible story at Highfields on Sunday 14th November at 6.30pm. 

We caught up with Henry and bowled him a few questions.
What is your best memory of playing cricket?
Taking 6/19 against England.

How would you describe yourself as a player?
Colourful, wild, erratic but could be devastating on a good day.

Who was your toughest opponent?
Australia. They always pummeled us.

You were the first black cricketer to play in test matches for Zimbabwe. Did you feel like a pioneer, and was it difficult to fit in into the national team?
Yes I felt like a pioneer. But no it wasn’t difficult. I was made to feel very welcome on my debut.

Why did you decide to wear the black armband at the World Cup in 2003?
To stand up against the excesses and abuses of the Mugabe regime.

What motivated you to make such a public and dangerous stand?
My Christian faith compelled me to stand against the death of democracy in my country.

How did people in Zimbabwe react to what you did?
The majority supported it. But some, including the government, were strongly against it.

How did you come to be living in the UK?
I got on a plane! But seriously a cricket club offered me a job and it was the only offer I got at the time.

How important was your Christian faith at such a difficult and dangerous time?
Very important. It gave me hope and support during some dark moments.

Why have you chosen to write a book about your life?
Many people asked me to. I felt it was the right time. Also I wanted to get it down on paper while it was still reasonably fresh in my memory before I forgot too many details.

Now that you are not playing first-class cricket, what do you do with your time?
Music, preaching, singing, photography, public speaking, videography, school visits and art. Oh, and I’m about to become a father.

Have you been to Cardiff before? What did you think?
Yes I have. I think it’s wonderful! I love the Welsh people – especially their singing.

‘Blood, Sweat and Treason: My Story’ by Henry Olonga is available now.

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