GOVERNMENT says it will henceforth take concrete measures to ensure that the welfare of artistes is given serious, as revelations of the circumstances of the late television comedian Lazarus “Gringo” Boora came to light at his burial in Rusape on Thursday.
Gringo passed away early this week in Harare after a long battle with cancer of the stomach and was buried at Rukweza Village in Rusape.
He was 47.
The hilarious Gringo hails from Manicaland, under Chief Makoni’s area.
Gringo began acting in school dramas and never looked back. He went on to make a name for himself in a number of television dramas such as Gringo, Gringo Ndiani, Gringo Mari Iripi, Gibbo and Village Secrets, among many others.
He was also brand ambassador for a number of companies.
Addressing mourners at Boora’s burial, Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tinotenda Machakaire said there is need to reform the arts sector to ensure the well-being of artistes.
Deputy Minister Machakaire said Gringo’s death is a wake-up call, adding Government is ready to play its part to improve artistes’ welfare.
“We have heard their cry, and I have seen it for myself. This is not good, and it has to be corrected. As Government, we have played our part to assist the bereaved family.
“We would also like to thank Mr Philip Mataranyika and the Nyaradzo Group as they have assisted with burial services and food free of charge. We need to make sure that our artistes earn both fame and fortune like in other countries.
“I have invited them to my office so that we work on it,” he said. “We need to sit down with the National Arts Council to find a way to cushion artistes and boost their livelihoods.”
He also hailed Dr Johannes Marisa and his team for availing free treatment to the late veteran actor.
Gringo’s wife, Netsai Meki, said her husband’s death is a great loss to the family, which will forever cherish the moments they spent together.
London based Headman Talkmore Mupambawahle said Makoni has been robbed of an ambassador who carried the district’s flag in an exemplary manner.
“Gringo was an icon. It is sad that we have lost him. We will miss his humour and jokes. As local traditional leaders, we are proud that he was a good ambassador of our area. Despite being famous, he lived a scandal free life.
“We now need to look at the earnings of our artistes so that they lead decent lives. Artistes in other countries are earning big gap. The parent ministry and the artistes themselves must come up with robust reforms to reshape the industry,” said Headman Mupambawahle.
Makoni Arts Association chairman, Mr Davison Maenzanise said the nation has been robbed of a talented artiste who was instrumental in the development of the arts industry.
He said Gringo never gave up despite the various challenges he encountered.
“Gringo was greatly talented but he remained humble, he did not allow fame to get into his head. He encouraged youngsters to follow his footsteps. His death is a wake-up call for stakeholders to fully embrace arts as a viable business and reward artists decently,” said Mr Maenzanise.
The funeral was attended by Makoni Central legislator, David Tekeshe, various artistes from across the country and people from all walks of life.
Mr Nigel Munyati of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust chipped in with assistance.
Mr Philip Mataranyika, founder and chief executive officer of the Nyaradzo Group covered food, transport and other funeral related costs.
Besides Gringo, Rusape produced quite a number of actors including comedians, Safiro ‘Mukadota’ Madzikatire and Simon ‘Mutirowafanza’ Shumba. ■