Tatenda Taibu is a former Zimbabwean cricketer, Test and ODI captain. At the age of only 21, he became the youngest Test captain in history. He took a two-year break for Zimbabwe from 2005 to 2007 when he played a season as the captain of Namibia and another season for the Cape Cobras in South Africa.
In 2012, Tatenda decided to quit cricket and focus on his work in the church. Tatenda told then, “I just feel that my true calling now lies in doing the Lord’s work, and although I am fortunate and proud to have played for my country, the time has come for me to put my entire focus on that part of my life.”
Tatenda joined Hightown St. Mary's College in 2016 as a player-coach-development-officer in the second-division of the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition in UK. In June 2016, he has accepted a role as Zimbabwe Cricket's convener of selectors and development officer. Recently, Tatenda Taibu has shared his incredible journey with Dhaka-based journalist Tarique Choyon:
Tarique Choyon: Hello Tatenda. How are you and where are you right now?
Tatenda Taibu: I am fine, thank you. I am in the UK, Liverpool.
Tarique Choyon: What are you doing there?
Tatenda Taibu: I am involved in cricket coaching at the school where my kids go, ST Mary's College. I am also in partnership with Anshul Cricket academy in India and we are going to start other branches in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh as well. Apart from that, I am trying to do the best that I can do to help the next generation’s leaders.
Tarique Choyon: So you moved to UK with your family. When and why?
Tatenda Taibu: In 2016, basically we just wanted to be a bit of change. And we wanted our kids to go to the school. So it was more a decision for my kids’ education that we moved to the UK.
Tarique Choyon: Tell us more about Anshul Cricket Academy. Who is the founder? How do you get involved in it?
Tatenda Taibu: It’s an academy. This is a team of six people including myself and two former Bangladeshi cricketers- Habibul Bashar and Manjarul Islam. We are trying to launch a program for kids internationally for exposing their talents. For instance, Zimbabwe Academy will visit India or Bangladesh. Bangladesh academy will visit India or Zimbabwe. Since it’s pointless to involve in an academy and just use a name without actually doing the coaching, that’s why I got involved in coaching. So, I intend to make sure that I will give time in there especially in winter when I am not busy in the UK. Because I am a little bit busy here in the UK during the summer as cricket played here during this time.
Tarique Choyon: Being a popular celebrity how will you describe yourself as a social worker?
Tatenda Taibu: Obviously being a cricketer I try to give back through cricket that comes naturally. When I retired from cricket I involved in church work, did work with the teenagers and I am a trustee of the church yet. I also feel to give back as a lot of people listen to my words. But there are more obligations too. I try to lead people at the right way.
I got a huge plan, I have a trust. But the problem is that I don’t have any sponsor. As the economy of Zimbabwe is very bad, it’s better for me to help people through cricket by getting international sponsors. Cricket is an expensive game. But I will do the best what I can. The money that I earn, want to spend to the poor kids who want to play cricket. My garage in the UK is full of cricket equipment. But I have to apply for tax exemptions as all of these cost money. Also, we got a couple of storages where we actually pay 80 pounds per month to keep the equipment. I have found an easier way to send these to kids in Zimbabwe. I want to achieve them what I achieved. I am hopeful I will get some sponsors soon to make my dream comes true.
Tarique Choyon: At the age of only 21 you became the youngest test captain in cricket history! But at your only 29 you decided to quit cricket and focused on working in the church. Why did you decide so?
Tatenda Taibu: Yes, I think I was really privileged to get that position in 21. It's great. I feel glad. But I feel greater to realize life in general. At 29, I had to leave because I was asking myself serious questions. The real question was what is the end? You are playing cricket, but once you have to be retired, then you become old and then what? I had to deal with the real issue of life that is the inner peace of a person. I started dealing with those and ended up with the church and since then played for the sake of people.
Real problems cannot be dealt with money. If a patient is diagnosed with cancer, there’s a time when the doctor says, chemotherapy won’t help. Then whatever the patient has, nothing will help him. So I always tell my kids and other people that real problems cannot be dealt with money. We would pray for someone when he has been given up by doctors and even whom money can’t help. So I had to find inner peace and I am glad I got it. A lot of people don’t understand that part of my life. But I am sure when my autobiography will be published in next year, that part will be understood.
Tarique Choyon: Once you answered to a question, ''the time has come for me to put my entire focus on that part of my life''.'' What is that part? For social work or for religion or for anything?
Tatenda Taibu: You are right. I was referring to inner peace. Because only when a person gets inner peace, only from then he can think of starting to do social work or to help someone. When you don’t have inner peace, you will spend a lot of money for thyself. Lots of people don’t have inner peace so that they just try to show off.
Tarique Choyon: Do you think can sport unite people?
Tatenda Taibu: I think the sport should unite people. But I don’t think it does it since money is the main priority. But things have been changed over the years. I would have always thought that sports unite people. Though it’s still doing but not like the same manner when there was not a lot of money in the sport.
Tarique Choyon: A couple of years ago you said, "Zimbabwe cricket needs to be treated with a little bit of love for now…''. What do you think poor people's pain could be reduced by love too?
Tatenda Taibu: I said that because I have come to realize that love is the greatest force that exists in the world. Though it cannot be seen but it’s the greatest force. If you are going to get anything, you have to sort it out by love. Hate has never sorted anything out. If you are a loving person, definitely people will take advantage of you by thinking you are weak in defence. But at the very end, you always win. Love never loses. It has never lost in any battle I have ever seen.
You are right. There are a lot of poor people in this world. If the world was full of love, there would be very few poor people. Due to lacking love, the ones who have got so much do not share anything with the poor. They get monopolized. It’s unfortunate.
Tarique Choyon: Do you have any suggestion to the young cricketers of Bangladesh?
Tatenda Taibu: My advice to the young Bangladeshi cricketers, you can do well in your field in whatever way you choose. You can become popular, earn a lot of money but these are not the real challenges. The real challenge is to remain humble after you have made a lot of money, become popular. A lot of people want to talk to you, to meet you. That defines you as a good person.
[NB: The interview was taken over phone from Dhaka]