Comedian Lazarus “Gringo” Boora’s co-actors in different local dramas have described him as the driving force behind the success of the productions.
They said Gringo was not just an actor, but someone who was dedicated to fighting for the rights of artistes.
Gringo succumbed to stomach cancer on Monday despite concerted efforts by doctors to stop the disease from spreading to other parts of the body.
He will be buried today at his rural home in Rusape.
Blessing Chimbowa, popularly known as “Mbudzi Yadhura” said Gringo’s death came as a shock to the arts industry.
“Boora was a person who did not want artists to be looked down upon,” he said.
“He was open and would speak his mind, especially when it comes to low payment of actors, that is why he did not feature in many productions. Many people used to say that Boora was a problem because of that.
“The other thing is that I am begging to all those who worked with Boora, he has left a family behind and I appeal to companies that worked with Boora to help his family not financially, but even to employ his children. Let us try to support his family.”
Chimbowa said he started working with Gringo before he became popular and he was a talented person. He said if one met Gringo, he would learn a lot of things from him.
William Matenga, who acted alongside Gringo as Gweshegweshe, described the late Gringo as a person who was focused and determined.
“I worked with Gringo for a lot of years dating back to the 1980s acting for Screen Talent Drama Club,” he said. “What I noticed ever since I started working with him was that he was a person with a bright future. He was very creative and would look beyond things when it comes to acting.
“It is a great loss to the arts industry. If the arts industry was in a good shape, we would have honoured him because the guy was so much hilarious and his levels were compared to none. There will be no character so versatile like Gringo.”
Another actor, Chati Butao, who also acted with Gringo, said Gringo was a humble person who would want to see other artistes proper in their endeavours.
“I did not start working with Gringo on “Gringo Troublemaker” as most of you might think,” he said. “We started working together in the early 90s in community halls. We used to do theatrical dramas there before we ventured into films. We used to visit schools doing dramas there.
“His character did not change, what he was doing back then is what he was before he died. He was a person who would want to teach others and we consulted him on a lot of things. He helped us on a lot of things in the arts industry,” said Butao.
Antony Tongani Snr said Gringo wanted professionalism in the arts industry and he will be sadly missed.
“I started knowing Lazarus Boora in 1988 when he wanted to venture into the arts industry,” he said. “We used to have drama clubs then. He was a very consistent person and wanted to do things that were straight forward.
“He fought for the rights of artistes and wanted them to be treated as people of substance. He stood with artistes, especially on payment. The gap which he has left in the arts industry will never be filled.”
Gringo died on Monday at Westview Clinic in Zimre Park and is survived by seven children and wife Netsai.
The doctor who was attending to him, Dr Johannes Marisa, said the stomach cancer had spread to other parts of the body, making it difficult to contain.
“Gringo had stomach cancer which had already spread to some parts of the body,” he said. “It seems he suffered a lot in the past months, but didn’t know about his condition. It was too late for us to save him.”
Gringo became popular in the early 90s when he began his acting career.
He studied drama at Mutare Teachers’ College before furthering his education in arts at the University of Zimbabwe where he studied theatre and dance. His first role was a junior police officer in Aaron Chiundura Moyo’s popular television drama series “Chihwerure”, before meeting Enock Chihombori who created Gringo the drama series.
In 2002, Gringo won the best actor award at the inaugural National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) for his works in Gringo productions.
He subsequently featured in other spin-offs of Gringo like “Gringo Ndiani?” and “Gringo Mari Iripi?”
He recently starred as Gibbo in the series “Village Secrets”.