THE burial of the late popular comedian Lazarus “Gringo” Boora at his rural home in Rukweza, Rusape, yesterday was marred by chaotic scenes as the family clashed with members of the Johanne Masowe eChishanu apostolic sect, a religion he had converted to.

BY KENNEDY NYAVAYA

The celebrated entertainer, who succumbed to cancer on Monday morning at a private medical facility in the capital, was laid to rest at a cemetery close to his homestead.

There was a clash of beliefs over funeral rites, between Gringo’s family and his apostolic church members who removed the corpse from the coffin before burial and barred graveside eulogies.

Gringo’s wife and seven children are also members of Johanne Masowe eChishanu sect.

This sparked an uproar that saw many disperse in protest. For the Rukweza villagers, they were there to pay last respects to Gringo, while for the artistes and fans it was time to celebrate his illustrious career, but his churchmates were there to bury the entertainer who had been rechristened Madzibaba Gadhirosi.

“Before he died, (Gringo) he told us that we should not play drums at his funeral, but not what they are doing here. They removed the corpse from the coffin and we do not like it as his family apart from it being illegal,” Gringo’s brother, Harrison, said.

The remorseless church members, however, could not bow to the family’s stance, maintaining that they were following Gringo’s church doctrine.

In his speech at the burial, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation deputy minister Tinomudaishe Machakaire pledged support for the industry to avoid artistes turning into beggars whenever tragedy struck.

“We have converged here for the funeral of our television star who not only entertained the citizens of this country, but all the way up to the President. I have heard the cries of the industry related to the status of their work and I promise that we will make efforts towards making their lives better,” he said.

Among the mourners were musicians and creative stakeholders such as National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Nicholas Moyo, actor-cum-singer Kapfupi, First Farai and Simon Mutambi.

Members of the arts fraternity lauded Gringo’s contribution to the industry.

“He worked very hard during his days and it is painful that at the time of his death he had not gained meaningful benefits from his work,” said Mbudziyadhura, who worked with him on many projects.

Gweshe Gweshe said: “He was a very humble man and deserved better. I just hope that this is an eye-opener that we need more funding and ways to earn better as artists.”

Gringo’s acting career began when he appeared on a TV commercial for Castle Lager and later worked for the now-defunct Joy TV where he appeared on some shows.

He made a name for himself with the popular drama series Gringo, where he shared the platform with one of the country’s best actresses, the late Sthembeni Makawa who played the role of Mai Gweshe Gweshe. Gringo was arguably one of the best actors of his generation as he played the role of a notorious gardener who used unscrupulous means to “fix” his errors.

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