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Chihombori agonises over Gringo’s pain

By Langton Nyakwenda

Enock Chihombori, the man who created the character “Gringo”, which was played by the now ailing comedian Lazarus Boora, is pained by the renowned actor’s plight.

Gringo (centre) with wife Netsai and Sekuru Banda
Gringo (centre) with wife Netsai and Sekuru Banda

The South Africa-based scriptwriter was famous for creating the popular drama series “Gringo” back in the 1990s.

The hilarious Boora was the chief protagonist in a cast that had the likes of William Matenga (Gweshe Gweshe); the late Stembeni Makawa, who played “Mai Gweshe Gweshe”; and Memory “Madhumbe” Makuri.

A notorious gardener, who always gave his employer Gweshe Gweshe some torrid times with his notoriety, especially in the 2013 production “Gringo Troublemaker”, “Gringo” is unwell and in dire need of support.

Chihombori says he has a fresh “Gringo” script ready for shooting but the main character, Boora, is currently not available.

Boora is battling intestine obstruction (tesnel), hearing and talking difficulties, and was last week admitted to a medical facility in the capital.

Chihombori, who is now based in South Africa after relocating from Botswana in 2017, has been following events back home.

“Lazarus’ (Boora) plight is painful to bear. As Zimbabweans, we have witnessed quite a number of our prominent artists go through difficult times when sickness or old age sets in.

“It is frightening. Some people can quickly blame lack of planning on the part of the artiste, but in many instances, it is simply a case of not having earned enough to afford a comfortable lifestyle or even having enough to put aside or invest in one’s future,” Chihombori told The Sunday Mail Society.

“I have experienced the life of an actor in Zimbabwe and I know how financially tough it was to try and survive on acting. Actors like Boora persevered because they had the talent and passion to keep on pushing. Only a lack of opportunities limited their abilities.

“With everything that Boora has done artistically over the years, he certainly does not deserve his current situation. It is painful,” said Chihombori, who played the character “Tobby Waters” in the Gringo series.

He described Gringo as one of the funniest characters of the era” and remembered his first encounter with the actor back in the 1990s.

“I was lucky to have worked with some of the funniest actors of that era — the late Collin Dube (John Banda), Fanuel Tonganayi (Firimoni), Blessing Chimhowa (Mbudziyadhura) and of course Lazarus Boora (Gringo). It was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life.

“It was just a joy to be on set with these guys. We were always happy and laughing and cracking jokes with Boora leading with his endless humour and wit. Boora made my writing experience a joy, because he was able to seamlessly fit into the character of Gringo without much effort.

“It seemed natural. I always thought he made my writing and story-lines seem better than they really were.

“He has natural ability — that which does not need much coaching or guidance. The first day he came for auditions, he got the part immediately.

“In fact, his name was suggested before the auditions. I had known him from an acting club called Screen Talent, but by then I had not known him on a personal level.

“His understanding of what was required from him just made us click artistically,” revealed Chihombori.

We also tracked the burly Matenga (Gweshe Gweshe) in Chitungwiza.

“I called him (Boora) on Tuesday (last week) and I could hear from the phone that he was not well. I am yet to see him but I have been in touch with his son,” Matenga said.

“It’s sad Gringo is going through all this, especially at a time when we were planning to do Gringo Troublemaker Part 2,” said the 60-year-old Matenga.

Gringo Troublemaker is a 2013 comedy written by Chihombori and directed by Ben Mahaka.

Matenga, Blessing Chimhowa, Tapiwa Mavindidze, Evangelista Mwatse and Chati Butau are some of the main actors in the film.

“That guy (Gringo) is very creative, very brilliant and someone who can do some extraordinary things on set.

“He made us think beyond the script. If you are not creative with Gringo waitorasika.

“We had some guidelines and a script we would follow in those dramas but Gringo would go beyond.

“Some of the things you saw in those Gringo series, he thought about them on set. We actually didn’t realise we would have such an audience, but thanks to Gringo’s antics our dramas became very prominent,” Matenga said.

“Gringo has to be back to full fitness so that we can do Gringo Troublemaker Part 2, and I would like to wholeheartedly thank Sekuru Banda for coming on board to help our friend and fellow actor.

“This is good for him (Gringo) because we need him back. Actually, we are trying to get in touch with well-wishers like Sekuru Banda to see how best they can assist us in our bid to produce Gringo Troublemaker 2.

“I think if we can do it, Gringo will be a happy man,” said Matenga.

Sekuru Banda visited Boora at his residence in Hatfield last week and pledged to foot the actor’s medical bills.

Boora was admitted Wednesday to Westview, where, according to sources, some doctors are taking care of his medical bills.

In light of the latest developments, Sekuru Banda told the publication last Friday that he would continue to follow through his promises to the actor.

“It is good news to hear that there are a lot of people who are coming aboard and supporting Gringo.

“Everyone who can should help this actor who made us all laugh with his hilarious acts when he was still fit,” said Sekuru Banda.

“I have pledged to build a house for Gringo and his family. They have also told me about the plans to produce Gringo Troublemaker Part 2 and the constraints they are facing.

“Funding is hard to come by these days but I will assist the crew as and when possible so that they can produce another comedy for the people.

“Gringo loves to act; comedy is his way of living, so we are saying he needs to be fit again and return to the stage and entertain us the way he used to,” said the traditional healer. The Sunday Mail

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