Saturday, 15 August 2015

He Is A “very stupid young boy”

RISING American football star Stansly Maponga, who has been in the eye of a hurricane amid raging fury from Zimbabweans angered by his disturbing remarks about the way he grew up in this country, feels relieved that the storm appears to be over.

The 24-year-old Atlanta Falcons linebacker, a trailblazer who became the first Zimbabwean to play in the multi-billion-dollar National Football League, has been at the centre of a vicious fallout with Zimbabweans who felt insulted by his comments in a television interview with Fox News.

Maponga, a fifth-round draft for the Falcons in 2013 who left this country when he was nine, appeared to suggest that life in Zimbabwe was so primitive, when he was growing up here, he had to hunt wild animals as a boy just to ensure that he survived.

He said his biggest culture shock, on his arrival in the United States, was to see that everyone seemed to have shoes.

“Back home, kids grow up a lot quicker because you have to go look for food and stuff like that,” Maponga told Fox television.

“(I hunted) mostly deer, squirrel, also rabbits too.”
Stansly Maponga
But his comments have been drawing sharp criticism, from Zimbabweans, who feel the American football star has not only humiliated their nation, but were not entirely true given that some of the animals he claimed to have hunted as a kid were not found in this country.

Prosper Gavanga, one of those who were angered by the remarks, turned to Facebook to vent his anger on Maponga, describing the athlete as a “very stupid young boy”, capturing the widespread anger that has been sweeping across the Zimbabwean community.

After being forced to apologise, Maponga used his Twitter account to thank the Zimbabweans “for all the POSITIVE messages I’m receiving”, reminding those who hadn’t read his apology to visit his Instagram account.

“Thank you so much for the support on and off the field, I’ve been truly blessed. I am a PROUD Zimbabwean and it is an honour to holster the name of my country on my back every time I step on the field,” Maponga said in his apology.

“With that said, I would like to extend an apology to my Zimbabwean family for some of the comments I made on Fox News.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared for the interview for I was just getting done with practice, nonetheless that’s not an excuse.

“I wasn’t acclimated to answering those questions. Let me clear a few things up, no, we do not hunt to survive in Zimbabwe. We hunted common animals leisurely when younger. As kids, we were raised actively and we didn’t stay couched up in the house all day playing video games.

“No, we enjoyed the outdoors and in Zimbabwean culture we’re taught the essence of loving and protecting nature. In actuality we haunted ‘mhembwe’ which is slightly comparable to deer over here in the US.

“That’s why I said deer, I didn’t know the proper term to use, I just wanted to paint a picture in people’s heads. We also enjoyed catching small creatures resembling squirrels (mbeva), but not necessarily squirrels.

“I’m repentant for those remarks. I grew up not having much, me and my brothers had to share the same pair of shoes for many years so, having the opportunity to come to the US and owning my own pair of shoes was a privilege but certainly not a culture shock like I stated.

“Deeply apologise for saying that. Now, I’m not saying everybody in Zimbabwe grows up the way I did, no. Everybody has a different upbringing, this was just mine. In no way shape or form did I want to degrade or disrespect my people, I just put words out of context during the interview.

“I love my heritage and my great country of Zimbabwe. I thank God for giving me this platform to be in a position to inspire a whole nation. I love playing football, I’ll never disown my country, I want to be a role model, I want kids in Zimbabwe to grow up knowing that with God and hard work nothing is impossible.

“Faith without works is dead, dream big, stay on your path, keep pushing. Be blessed.”

Munyaradzi Mugomeza felt his comments were unacceptable and an insult to the country.

“Stereotype feeding, which Zimbabwe is that? He says his biggest culture shock was shoes, he grew up hunting for squirrels to survive,” said Mugomeza on Facebook.

“Guys let us promote the true picture of our country. I know things are tough in Zimbabwe at the moment but he is painting a primitive and negative image.

“We welcome his idea of giving back to his community but he should not feed the stereotype.”

Prosper Gavanga said his country remained a great nation.

“Some it’s over excitement from these youngsters. Zim is a great blessed country,” while Revesayi Mutede said it was embarrassing.

“I blame the parents ,never taught him anything good about Zimbabwe.”

But there has also been support, being extended to Maponga, in the wake of his decision to apologise for his remarks.

“We all make mistakes, have a great day,” commented one who calls himself ‘mamacitathomas’ while another, ‘almost_bad’, said “keep raising the flag high, so what, you made a mistake during an interview? It could happen to anyone . . . continue being a role model to young boys from Zimbabwe.”

Here are some of the comments:

“Well said and apology accepted. I was a bit taken back by what you had said and thought from all this people will think we all run around half naked and we don’t even have towns and airports.”


“Proud that he is the first Zimbo in the NFL but making fanciful comments when we are already looked down (upon) is a no. Glad he retracted that. Ehhh va Maponga tinokusappotai.”

“I accept his apology seems (legitimate). At the end of the day he’s done well to make it to the NFL and (represent) Zim. But akanyepa futi it will be a problem.”

“I get it, must be embarrassing to say you hunted rats to a foreign country audience that don’t eat them. Nevertheless you have raised awareness for all of us that a Zimbo plays NFL. That’s great stuff and all that matters. Keep on shining.”

“Just saw the interview… Under duress/after practice/under stress still can’t understand why anyone would want their country seen in a negative light? Well God bless in all you do but a bit of self reflection is needed, an apology given is always sincere in my books so thank you.”

Evan Mawarire
“Zimbabwe loves you my boy. You have a good heart. Focus on your game, break records and above all thank God for the gift.” The Herald
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