Zimbabwean NFL player Stansly Maponga Issues apology, Clarifies "Mhembwe" and Deer Comparison

 In 2013, the Atlanta Falcons chose Stansly Maponga as a defensive end in the fifth round. He became the very first NFL player from Zimbabwe. In an interview with Fox News, Maponga talked about his memories of growing up in Africa. He mentioned that life was tough for kids back home because they had to find their own food. He said, “Back home, kids grow up a lot quicker because you have to go look for food and stuff like that,” said Maponga. “[I hunted for] mostly deer, squirrel. Also rabbits, too.” 

Stansly Maponga

When Zimbabweans heard about this, it caused a big uproar online. Later, Maponga apologized on Instagram, saying, 

"I want to thank everyone for their support both on and off the field. I'm very proud to be from Zimbabwe and it's an honor to represent my country every time I play football. I also want to apologize to my Zimbabwean family for the comments I made on Fox News. I wasn't prepared for the interview, as I had just finished practice, but that's not an excuse. I didn't explain things well. In Zimbabwe, we don't hunt to survive; we used to hunt animals for fun when we were kids. We were active and loved being outdoors. We were taught to respect and protect nature in our culture. I mentioned 'deer' because it's similar to an animal we hunted, called 'Mhembwe.' We also caught small creatures like squirrels, which we called 'mbeva,' although they weren't exactly squirrels. I'm sorry for my comments. I didn't have much growing up, and my brothers and I had to share shoes for a long time. Coming to the U.S. was a privilege, but it wasn't a culture shock like I said. I apologize for that. I didn't mean to disrespect my people; I just misspoke during the interview. I love my heritage and my great country of Zimbabwe. I'm grateful for the platform I have to inspire my nation. I also love playing football, and I'll never forget where I come from. I'm proud to be American and appreciate the opportunities I've been given. I want to be a role model and show kids in Zimbabwe that with faith and hard work, they can achieve anything. Dream big, stay on your path, and keep pushing. Be blessed."
Mungwadzi Godwin

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