YAdelaide Exclusives

The Fascinating Story of Adelaide's Henry Olonga!

Living in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia is the fascinating and multi-talented Henry Olonga. Perhaps most popularly known for his sporting career and brave political stance, Henry was the first black cricketer and youngest-ever player to represent Zimbabwe at the international level.

Name
Henry Olonga
Business Name
Henry Olonga

The Fascinating Story of Adelaide's Henry Olonga!

Living in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia is the fascinating and multi-talented Henry Olonga. Perhaps most popularly known for his sporting career and brave political stance, Henry was the first black cricketer and youngest-ever player to represent Zimbabwe at the international level.

The Fascinating Story of Adelaide's Henry Olonga!

Living in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia is the fascinating and multi-talented Henry Olonga. Perhaps most popularly known for his sporting career and brave political stance, Henry was the first black cricketer and youngest-ever player to represent Zimbabwe at the international level.

Share

Henry was called for ‘throwing’ in a Test in early 1995 but made a phenomenal come-back after being sent to Adelaide to rebuild his bowling action completely. Henry took advice from Dennis Lillee, the former Australian cricketer rated as the “outstanding fast bowler of his generation”. However, Henry’s ability as a strike bowler was shown in the 1998-99 tour of Pakistan when he ripped through the experienced Pakistan top-order to set up a win in the first Test.

Henry was a central figure in one of the most courageous sporting protests of recent times. At the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Henry was a key player for Zimbabwe. He made international headlines when, along with team mate Andy Flower, he wore a black armband protesting the “death of democracy” in Zimbabwe. The protest was against the policies of Zimbabwe’s government, led by Robert Mugabe. The two players released a statement slamming the regime and exposing incidents of torture, false imprisonment and starvation.

I got a second chance in my cricket career. It’s possible that the cricket authorities could have just looked at me and said he’s too much work he’s been called for throwing — see you later — but I got a second chance.

Legend: Henry Olonga

Into Exile ~ England

Henry was heralded for his bravery; however, the infamous black armband was to be the end of Henry’s international cricket career. His strong stance resulted in numerous death threats and he was forced into hiding after an arrest warrant was issued against him on the grounds of treason. In the nick of time, a wealthy benefactor bought Henry a plane ticket to England which gave him the opportunity to start a new life.

Whilst in the UK, in addition to working as a sports commentator, Henry seized the opportunity to show his artistic talents. He won the Channel Five’s The All Star Talent Show in 2006 for Operatic singing and, later that year, he released an album entitled Aurelia.

It really felt like I had to start again from scratch. I was alone in a new country. I lost my career and my fiancee. I didn’t know anyone. However, complete strangers were prepared to help me. I believe I have been fortunate in life to have been surrounded by people that have helped me.

Henry Olonga with his wife, Tara Read

Why Adelaide?

In 1995, after being sent to Henley Beach at Adelaide’s Australian Cricket Academy to reform his bowling arm action, 19-year-old Henry had met a youth leader in her mid-20s, Tara Read. Years later in 2004, after seeking refuge in England and having lost his then-fiancee, Henry and Tara were speaking incessantly and soon fell in love.

Henry bought Tara a plane ticket to come and visit England in December 2004 and they were soon married. Although Tara’s family were all in Adelaide, this didn’t stop her mother from flying to England for both of their two children’s births!

Henry and Tara made the decision to relocate to Australia in 2015 and then moved to Tara’s hometown of Adelaide. Henry jokes that he found the UK ‘a little too cold and miserable’. Henry realised their children, Talika and Lianna, would better experience the outdoors in Adelaide – having greater accessibility to recreational activities and sports. Henry finds Adelaide to be appealing because of the lifestyle.

I love fishing in Australia. I never thought that I would love fishing. My next-door neighbour is a professional and he took me out to catch some snapper – that’s when I got into it. I understand peoples’ enthusiasm for fishing now! 

Inspiring Life Story

Henry has one of the most fascinating and truly inspiring life stories. Henry was born in Lusaka, Zambia on 3rd July 1976. He didn’t just excel in sports but also in creative arts. He was good at public speaking, drama, music, acting and art. Early on, he aspired to be an athlete representing his father’s nation Kenya in the Olympics. When he attended the Plumtree School, he was head boy. Henry speaks fondly of two poems that have been influential in his life when growing up and throughout adulthood: ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling and  ‘To Risk’ by William Arthur Ward.

Blood, Sweat And Treason tells the story of Henry’s childhood against a backdrop of revolution, independence and a country that gradually spiralled out of control. He talks of his growing realisation that Mugabe headed up a murderous regime and how he sacrificed his comfortable position as an international sportsman to try to make a difference.

Henry’s autobiography Blood, Sweat and Treason – My Story, has been nominated for various awards. It won Cricket Web Book of the Year 2010, was longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2010 and shortlisted for Best Cricket Book and Best Autobiography at the British Sports Book of the Year Awards 2011.

In 2009, our hero Henry "the Zimbabwe pacer" Olonga appeared on the singing talent show called 'The Voice Australia' and through his rendition of the song "This is the moment" by Anthony Warlow blew away the judges of the show and fans across all social media platforms.

The stunning 'mash up' by Henry and Denzel took the breath away of the judges and audience on the Voice! Described as turning out to be more of duet, the pair of artists owned the stage that night! The combination of musical talent and timing made for a true masterpiece.

“Blood, Sweat and Treason: My Story” by Henry Olonga

Speaker & Entertainer

Henry is a very passionate and creative person who loves to pursue a lot of different things at the same time. He is a keen artist, enjoys photography and anything that has to do with the wonder of creation. Henry has emerged triumphant after facing many challenges throughout life.

Henry is available for guest speaking, keynote presentations, motivational & inspirational talks. The topics Henry includes are:

  • Resilience: bouncing back from initial failure 
  • Adaptation: living life as a jack of all trades and master of none
  • Inspiration: goal setting and motivation
  • Curiosity, humility and inquisitiveness: finding your vocation in life
  • Determination: a fresh perspective on life

In Henry’s keynote appearances, he recounts his entertaining and inspiring experiences with a wonderful blend of conviction and charm. Henry often finishes with a breathtaking operatic singing experience. Adelaide is glad to have Tara Read back and welcomes both Henry Olonga & family with open arms!

To make contact with Henry Olonga, follow this link.

Henry Olonga is available as a key note speaker

Name
Henry Olonga
Business Name
Henry Olonga