ACTOR Lazarus “Gringo” Boora’s death has exposed the begging syndrome which has become a staple at most local celebrities’ funerals, arts practitioners have said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the late actor’s funeral wake in Zimre Park yesterday, various players in the film industry concurred it was high time celebrities are given “befitting” farewells.
This follows Gringo’s fate who died begging for help since he was failing to making ends meet.
Gringo, who was a darling of many on the small screens for over two decades, succumbed to stomach cancer on Monday.
He was 47.
Gringo had been admitted at Westview Clinic for almost a week receiving free treatment, courtesy of newly formed Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) under the aegis of Dr Johannes Marisa.
Although Gringo lost his battle against stomach cancer, various players in the film industry said it was high time the begging syndrome was arrested.
Veteran producer, actor and producer Aaron Chiundura-Moyo who was the first to introduce Gringo to the small screen in 1997, described the late actor as a hero.
“He was a television hero and for him to die the way it happened is really very sad for the industry.
“The current economic situation have worsened our situation while piracy dealt us a body blow that will take long to heal.
“However, we have been calling for Government intervention to assist us since there are other factors like piracy which has left us poor,” he said.
Chiundura-Moyo, who also wrote several dramas and set books, said it was high time the welfare of artists is taken seriously.
“We will continue lobbying relevant authorities to intervene because we are dying paupers besides us working hard to come up with these productions.
“It’s sad that Gringo has been unwell and he appealed for help which he received when it was too late.
“However, we thank those who helped him last days to extend the favour to others while Government an relevant minister should take action and assist us,” he said.
In another interview, Wenera actress Fatima Mukunganya, who was inspired by Gringo, said it the begging syndrome was eclipsing most celebrities’ funerals.
“Firstly, let me say I’m saddened by Gringo’s death who was immensely talented and versatile.
“He was such an actor who could inspire you if you were part of his cast because of his creative edge,” she said.
Fatima said she was not pleased to learn of Gringo challenges in the past few months leading to his death.
“For a person of Gringo’s calibre to die appealing for help exposes some of the ills hurting the industry.
“The fact that he was failing to meet his medical and hospital bills shows that he did not earn enough to sustain himself.
“As it stands, the limelight we receive on the small screen does reflect on our lifestyle which is sad.
“We are calling the relevant Ministry to show commitment towards the upkeep and welfare of artists,” she added.
Fellow sentiments were echoed by actress, poet and songbird Ammi Jamanda who accused arts regulatory chiefs of sleeping on duty.
“We have been calling for clear policies where the arts regulatory bodies are required to have a data base of his membership.
“We also expect the relevant Ministry to take our issues serious because it has become a routine for this this begging syndrome at most celebrities’ funerals,” she said.
Unlike most of her peers who demanded action from the arts regulatory chiefs, film-maker, producer and director Beauty Nakai Tsuro reckons arts practitioners should not stop lobbying Government and relevant authorities.
“To me, Gringo was a humble man who played his part and his death showed us there are some things we are still doing wrong.
“However, I urge arts practitioners to continue lobbying Government, relevant Minister among other arts regulatory bodies until these issues are addressed.
“Right now, what we want most is to take stock of where things have been done wrong and toy to come up with better policies that can benefit us,” she said.
Fellow actor Zolile Makeleni who stars in Wenera as Tsotsi said the plight of Gringo exposed the disparities in the film industry.
“When an artist cannot afford to meet their bills, to join funeral schemes and medical aid schemes like EcoSure for an instances, it shows that they are getting nothing.
“For me to become an actor, I was inspired by the like of Gringo but I can tell you that we don’t get as much as people expect us to be earning.
“Such moments call for authorities like ZBC where characters like Gringo starred for years but still they died paupers with nothing to show for it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gringo’s fellow church mate at Johanne Masowe Madzibaba Convious Chipuriro said congregants will be in charge of the funeral as per his demands.
“We used to call him Madzibaba Gadross but he didn’t want to be given a position of authority despite his wise counsel.
“He was one such a person who wanted transparency and he would not hesitate to speak his mind.
“Despite all the fame that he had, Gringo was one such a person who was humble and preferred to be treated the same like fellow members,” he said.
Asked how they will bury him as per church tradition, Gringo added:
“What I can only say about his burial is that we will be in charge on Thursday as he promised us before his death.
“He has always demanded to be buried by us and we won’t allow Nyau dancers at the funereal as we promised.”
Gringo’s body will lie in state at his rural home in Nyazura today while burial take place tomorrow.
He is survived by his widow Netsi Meki and several children.