Cricket uniting blacks, whites in Zimbabwe
Harare: Cricket has become the biggest unifier of blacks and whites in Zimbabwe, a country that had seen the two races occupying different corners.
The mingling of fans and teamwork by the players - both blacks and whites - has shown that, after all, Zimbabwe could be one big happy family if all the people were to forget their political differences and rally behind the success of the nation, Xinhua reported.
Having been a predominantly all-white game when Zimbabwe gained recognised independence in 1980, cricket has transformed a great deal and blacks now also don the predominantly red and white colors of the national team.
And a strong cricket culture in most schools, starting at the lower levels in primary school, has seen many blacks developing an interest in what is dubbed "the gentlemen`s game".
Even though President Robert Mugabe has not attended a cricket match in a very long time, he is known as "the country`s No 1 cricket fan" as he made sure in the past that he watched a number of international matches played on home soil.
Pictures that appeared in The Herald Monday showing Zimbabwe`s winning of the Pran AFL Twenty20 tri-series showed blacks and whites coming together in harmony, celebrating the victory of a nation which has not done very well on the international stage
The picture of captain Brendan Taylor holding the trophy surrounded by a host of black faces showed that the game had matured and that the color bar between black and white had been overcome - at least in the game of cricket.
Football remains the biggest game in the country, but it has not united the people across races in the same way cricket has; thanks to the cricket administrators who made a deliberate policy to include more blacks into the national team in the middle of the last decade.
"We must live beyond color, tribe and race. We are all Zimbabweans and the sooner that all of us realise that we can only prosper working together as citizens of one country the better for everyone. After all, we sing our national anthem in three languages," a fan was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
He gave the example of swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry who has no less than four Olympic medals for her country.
"She is white, but the medals she wins are not only hers. They also belong to Zimbabwe because when she goes to the Olympics she will be representing Zimbabweans of all races. If we can accommodate her in sport, then we should be able to accommodate her in all the other spheres of life," he added.
Zimbabwe was stripped of its Test status in 2005 due to its poor performance. This was restored last year and Zimbabwe played a one-off Test against Bangladesh, which it lost.