Veteran actor Chigorimbo opens up on love life
By Mbongeni Msimanga
He is famous for taking part in Zimbabwe’s first ever television soap opera, Studio 263 that premiered in September 2002 and became very popular with the country’s populace, but amid his celebrated life he still longs for real love and real family life that his acting career has somehow denied him all these years.
This is the story of the witty Stephen Chigorimbo who played the role of John Huni in the soap opera — Studio 263.
He is celebrated by many people as an icon, a director, script writer and actor par-excellence not only in the Zimbabwean film industry but internationally as well.
But reality still remains to haunt him. That his passion for the film industry has robbed him of a decent family life and decent relationships as it has forced him through three divorces — a fact he attributes to love and dedication to his job that saw him spend less time with family.
“I have gone through three divorces because I always travel all over the world. Maybe it is because I have not been able to settle down with my family because of the dedication that I have for my work,” said Chigorimbo in an interview with Sunday Leisure.
At 63 and successful in the film industry, he probably regrets his past that has also seen him go through a bad patch with his eldest son as he revealed he was not in talking terms with him.
With 14 children to his name, he still insists that more could have been done to have better relationships with his children amid the glitz and glamour of acting that saw him get lost in the trivial celebrity life and associated behaviour.
“I still believe that I could have saved my past relationships, but acting has been a vocation and vocations cost. It creates problems as I am forced to be all over. I am a father of 14 children and at the moment I am not in talking terms with my eldest son because he always says I was never there during the important moments in his life,” he said.
As the film industry is surrounded by attractive women who are eager to make a name, successful directors and actors of his nature are an easy target to young actresses.
Chigorimbo said so much talent had been lost in the film industry because of such behaviour as young women are desperate to make a career and readily offer anything to the directors.
“It is so painful to see that we have lost so much talent in the film industry because of these young girls who are desperate to make a name for themselves. These young girls target directors in the film industry and offer their bodies in exchange for anything,” he said.
Evidently to him the “bus of a proper marriage” has passed and he is still married to his job, something that has seen him writing his latest offing, Shawasha Hills, a soap opera that has 65 episodes.
Or perhaps he believes in Margaret Mitchel’s words that, “I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.”
And so he never sought to mend his broken relationship with any of his ex-wives.
The man who strongly believes in God hopes the new offering would be a success given his previous record.
“I have a new soap opera that I am working on — Shawasha Hills and I have just finished writing the 65 episodes of the film. I believe that they will be a success as this is not an experiment,” said Chigorimbo.
Although he is heavy in the heart and passionate about the Zimbabwean film industry, Huni as he was affectionately known lamented the death of the film industry and called for support from Government in order to revitalise it.
In light of the lack of Government funding and support in the entire arts industry in Zimbabwe, the veteran actor said there was a need for a film commission to be launched whose main mandate would be to source and avail financial resources for the film sector.
“Zimbabwe has great potential in making its film industry a competitive one just like Hollywood but the lack of a film commission which can co-ordinate funding and resources for it to reach dizzy heights is missing,” said Chigorimbo.
Chigorimbo was born on 6 April 1951. His career in the film industry started in 1974 when he featured in the film, Whispering Death.
He has worked on productions such as Cry Freedom, King Solomon’s Mines and Mandela, that have been successful world over. The Sunday News