By Sophia Chese and Tawanda Marwizi
The name Lawrence Simbarashe evokes a string of humorous memories in the minds of many Zimbabweans who are in love with comedy.
Simbarashe played the character Bhonzo in yesteryear comedy series “Bhonzo Nechikwata”. The series brought the actor, broadcaster and advertiser to fame.
He was known for his comic lines and his outstanding powerful voice was unmistakable. The voice was a natural gift put to good use. Bhonzo and his sidekick Timmy thrilled many and made memorable episodes.
However, many years down the line, life has become miserable for Bhonzo.
After battling a blood pressure-related ailment for some years, Bhonzo, in addition, lost most of his household property when his house was gutted by fire in 2011.
The actor has been struggling to make ends meet and he aimlessly wanders on the streets of Harare and Chitungwiza seeking assistance from well-wishers.
Illness has affected his voice and he struggles to utter audible words. Bhonzo’s pathetic situation caught the attention of Highfield West Member of Parliament, Psychology Maziwisa and his friends.
Last week Maziwisa, actor Timothy “Timmy” Tapfumaneyi and businessman Stanley Kasukuwere as well as socialites Thomas Chizhanje and Nomathemba Ndebele donated the goods to Bhonzo at his house in Chitungwiza.
The actor’s house was virtually empty. He had no bed and basic household furniture. He would sleep on the floor with a few old blankets.
The team sourced food, clothes, blankets and $245 cash.
Tapfumanei who played the role of Timmy in the “Bhonzo Nechikwata”, donated a two-seater couch, double bed and television set.
Maziwisa said he was touched by Bhonzo’s plight.
“When I saw his picture on Facebook I realised he was going through a hard time. We need to assist him to get back to his feet, this man has done a lot for Zimbabwean entertainment industry and I think he deserves better,” said Maziwisa.
“I was orphaned when I was very young and I naturally treat anyone who is elderly as my own parent and Mudhara Bhonzo is like a father to me, so I am going to do anything in my power to make sure that his life improves.”
Kasukuwere, who took Bhonzo for medical examinations, hailed all the people who contributed to the cause saying the gesture would go a long way in educating people to assist their heroes and heroines whilst alive.
“This is a good idea. Every Zimbabwean must assist our own heroes when misfortunes befall them,” said Kasukuwere.
He also took the opportunity to beg Bhonzo’s wife Pain Migura — who had not been available when the campaign to help Bhonzo started and only appeared at the handover of the goods — to stay with her husband and give him the necessary support he needs.
“Mai Bhonzo we are begging you to take care of our old man and give him the necessary support that he needs, that is only what we are asking of you. Leave the rest to us,” he said.
Migura promised to look after Bhonzo well and thanked the well-wishers for their gesture. Bhonzo could not say much because of his vocal problem, but he was very thankful and jovial throughout the ceremony.
Bhonzo’s closest friend and neighbour Edson Gunda thanked Maziwisa and his team, saying the life of the old man had not become miserable.
“Mudhara Bhonzo had been reduced to a mere beggar who could just wake up in the morning and start to walk the streets of St Mary’s asking for food and money, but I am sure his life is not going to be the same again after this gesture,” he said.
Timmy said he has a big role to play in Bhonzo’s life because the old man discovered his talent and put him on limelight.
“We met in the 90s on ZBC staff bus. We used to sit at the back seat cracking jokes and by then I was a gardener at ZBC. That is the time when he introduced me to the studio,” he said.
Timmy said he has penned another drama titled “The Return of Timmy naBhonzo”.
“Everything is now in place and we hope to start working on it this December. Mudhara has a problem with his voice but we hope he will get medical attention soon and we will see how we can work even in his current condition. That is one way mudhara will be able to get income and desist from begging.”
Bhonzo has featured on more than 15 local and international films including “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Flame”. The Herald