A former world-class cricketer for Zimbabwe, Henry Olonga is perhaps most well known for his protest against Mugabe government policies during the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Wearing a black armband during a match cost him his career and forced him to flee the country. Today, he lives in the UK and is, amongst other things, a singer, artist, music producer and ‘occasional cricketer’.
“I don’t regret the decision to protest, even though it stopped me playing cricket for my country. There are some things that are more important than personal ambition, and representing people who don’t have a voice is one of them.
“Although my life now might not be how I had imagined it, I’m happy to be pursuing a more artistic career.”
Olonga admits to being a “quiet fan” of Zimbabwe during the 2011 Cricket World Cup but did not follow the competition closely.
Recently, Olonga took up a new protest on behalf of Toilet Twinning and the millions of people living without access to clean water and decent sanitation.
“Having grown up in Zimbabwe, I appreciate what a precious resource water is. There, as in many places, too many people, especially children, are suffering and dying from diarrhoeal diseases caused by inadequate sanitation and dirty water.
“Globally, 884 million people don’t have access to clean water and even more lack basic sanitation. I think this is scandalous, so when I heard about Toilet Twinning I was keen to do what I could.”
Toilet Twinning is a light-hearted initiative formed by a partnership between the charities Cord and Tearfund. It aims to raise awareness and funds for water, hygiene and sanitation programmes in developing countries.
“Anyone can twin their toilet with one in the developing world for £60, which is used to support water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. Donors get something in return too – a certificate with a photo of their twin latrine and its GPS coordinates”.
“Toilet Twinning’s message is simple: 2.6 billion people in the world don’t have access to basic sanitation, affecting their health and livelihoods; through twinning your toilet, you can make a difference.
“Water and sanitation are so closely linked that it makes sense to highlight both issues together. I hope that people will see the serious message behind the novelty of Toilet Twinning and be moved to act.”
To find out more about how you can join Henry Olonga in supporting the Toilet Twinning program, visit www.toilettwinning.org.
Photos above: Jay Butcher/Tearfund.