HARARE – Some years back, a colleague once light-heatedly remarked how he couldn’t wait for Tochukwu Emwerem to make his debut for Zimbabwe in Test cricket, the venerated five-day format of the sport played then only by an elite club of 10 nations in the world.

Tongue-in-cheek, he suggested the headline would be something along the lines of “Zim selection for Tochukwu, finally: bowler set to become first Nigerian to ever play Test cricket.”

Only that Emwerem is as Zimbabwean as anybody born and raised in Bulawayo could be, incredibly proud about it, just as he also remains conscious of his Nigerian heritage.

The former Falcon College and Zimbabwe Under-19 pacer long fell off the radar as a cricketer, moving abroad to start a different life as an adult, watching his favourite sport from a distance now at the age of 32.

But while Emwerem didn’t take his cricket to the next level, another top talent of Nigerian origin could go a step further for Zimbabwe, albeit in a different sport.

And, you guessed right, he goes to Falcon College!

Big and athletic Obinna Nweke scored one of the tries in the Zimbabwe Schools Under-18 side’s delightful comeback 44-40 win over Limpopo Blue Bulls on the first day of the Academy Week in South Africa on Monday.

His colossal strength in the young Zimbabwean side’s engine room, carrying his great form from Falcon, drew widespread praise.

The 2024 Zimbabwe Schools Under-18 team pose for a shoot before the South Africa tour.

The giant lock-forward, who was born in Zimbabwe to a father from Nigeria and a local mother, is well liked around Falcon’s posh schoolyard for his easy-going personality that belies his huge frame.

No wonder when he is playing for the rugby-crazy Zimbabwean elite school, and on song as he’s often, the adoring students of Falcon chant his name.

“He’s humble, a gentle giant,” said Falcon’s director of rugby Derek Chiwara.

“He is likeable, wears a gentle smile, and channels all his aggression on the field. Off the field, he is a people’s person. He also has a following on the basketball side, where he made the Zim CHISZ (private schools) team.”

The Maddogs: Obinna Nweke (left) with his Zimbabwe Schools teammates from Falcon, Ralph Tekede and Zane Sibanda.

It is Nweke’s rugby talents though that stand out, possibly a future addition to Zimbabwe’s historically diversified national team, the Sables.

“On the park, he is a strong ball-carrier and always gains extra yards with the ball,” Chiwara said. “He’s clinical with line-outs as a jumper, and he also lifts well. His work ethics is second to none.”

This probably sounds more like 76-time capped Maro Itoje’s first impression on England’s selectors.


Ralph Tekede, Wayne Kuraimunashe, Stefan Kruger, Takudzwa Matsvimbo, Tinotenda Chinyadza, Kudzai Chenda, Tyde Strirrup, PK Manyakara, Thomas Judson, Russel Hawkins, Rory Honey, Denzel Dhave, Zane Sibanda, Mutsawashe  Choto, Robert Hutchings, Sibusiso Sibanda, Obinna Nweke, Rufaro Shenje, Connor Lovatt, Julian Nyikavaranda, Anthony Manning, Taona Mundawaro, Samuel Nduku.


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