About Henry Olonga
By Tara Olonga
Henry with legendary producer George Massenburg
Henry was born in Zambia, Lusaka in 1976 to a Kenyan father (John) and a Zimbawean mother (Sabina). He spent the first few years of his life growing up in Zambia and Kenya before moving to Zimbabwe in 1981 just after independence was attained.
He attended Rhodes Estate Preparatory School as a junior and then moved on to a very good boarding school called Plumtree. It was during his time at Plumtree that his interests started to emerge and come to the forefront. He did well in athletics in particular but had a healthy participation in all sports.For some time Henry actually had aspirations to represent Kenya as an athlete at the Olympics. Not only was he interested in sport but he also cultivated a passion for all things to do with the creative arts.Public speaking,drama,music and artl. He took part in the school musicals every year and gained lead roles from his second form year onward. Henry made his acting debut as a girl in Oklahoma - apparently not the prettiest girl to have been in a Plumtree High school production - never mind.Henry was also very active in the school choir.
Cricket for sometime had been in the background, just one of many interests he had. When his athletics coach left the school his cricket coach took him under his wing and presented him with a new dream he had not previously considered. Zimbabwe had just gained test status and was in need of a fast bowler. Henry possessed the speed and athleticism needed to be a very good fast bowler. Once this dream had been planted he decided this was a path he would like to pursue.
He made his international debut in 1995, becoming the youngest player and first black cricketer to play for Zimbabwe. His first over was an emotional roller coaster, not just for him but for the crowd as well!!! His first ball was 4 wides down legside however; he did manage to redeem himself by taking a wicket with his third ball in test cricket. He helped Zimbabwe to its first ever Test victory in that game.
Henry also had the misfortune in that same test to be caled for throwing.This meant that his action required remedial action and work with Dennis Lillee,Joel Garner and Clive Rice assisted in getting his action legalised.Henry then proceeded to play for Zimbabwe over an eight season career with mixed success.
Henry achieved international recognition (along with team mate Andy Flower) in 2003 by wearing a black armband in a Cricket World Cup match to protest against the policies of Zimbabwe's government.Henry had to flee Zimbabwe from impending threats.
He is now living in England and has continued to play cricket for the club that gave him refuge called Lashings.
Henry has always had a love for music. He has been performing as a soloist since the tender age of 14. He has a tenor voice which he conveniently discovered after his not so complimentray part as a girl in Oklahoma! (By the way it was an all boys school). He has released a single called “Our Zimbabwe” and has also released his first contemporary pop album “Aurelia” with one of the UK’s top producers, Robbie Bronnimann. He is currently working on his 2nd and 3rd albums one of which will be a gospel album. He’s not sure which one will be released first but is hoping to have them both completed sometime in 2009. Keep updated on progess by clicking the RSS feed.
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.He would like to pursue his acting and drama more if he had the time, and just loves getting behind a video camera. (Can be a bit bossy sometimes but guess you have to be if you are the director!). He hopes to one day release a feature length film. In the mean time though is taking on smaller projects such as his own music videos and church related material and is looking to release them on his website and on Vimeo.
Henry is one of a typically large African family. He has 2 brothers, 2 sisters and a step mum he grew up with (Victor, Lionel, Yolande, Veronica and Judith); and he has 10 half brothers and sisters who are part of a previous family on his father’s side who live in Kenya.
He is married to Tara; a lovely Australian ( yup.....they do exist he he) so has inherited another 3 sister in-laws (Tiffany, Michelene and Kirsten), 2 brother in-laws (Marcus and Grant) and 4 nieces and nephews (Zoe, Shaylee, Brayden and Micah). Not to mention of course a father and mother in-law (Des and Ros). So for the mathematically minded that is 29 in total and still counting!
Henry became a Christian at a youth camp at the age of 16. Some friends who were Christians invited him along to a youth camp. He heard messages each night and on one of the final evenings a man got up and preached the message of the gospel. It was to this message that he responded and gave his life to God.
He went through the typical search that most people pursue in answer to the three biggest questions in life.
Where did it all begin,what is my purpose here and what happens when I die?After a brief flirtation with yoga,achievement driven goal setting,music and other pursuits to satisfy that desperate longing we all have for reconciliation with God - Henry turned his life over to the one true living God.He has been a practising Christian for the ever since . He enjoys travelling as an evangelist preaching the gospel and sharing the story of God's mercy in his life.Wherever he gets invited with cheerfulness and also a sense of seriousness he shares the truth about how God has faithfully preserved him and sustains him and also what God can do to all humble enough to call on His name.He tries to use his story and songs to convey this testimony to point people in the direction of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Henry is an e-mail away if you would like to use him in your local outreach.