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Gringo: The Comedian who Stole Many Souls

The late Lazarus Boora aka Gringo’s ungoverned deeds induced laughter to his admirers, both on and off the TV screen. Gringo is a ghetto tal...

The late Lazarus Boora aka Gringo’s ungoverned deeds induced laughter to his admirers, both on and off the TV screen.

Gringo is a ghetto talk denoting a trickster, a fiddly character, amused at unleashing harm towards his peers. Such a description fits Boora's character without a contest.

In the late 1990s, I and many others were enchanted by Gringo’s witty vernacular acting exploits when he became a household name on local Zimbabwe TV.

The weekly installment was a must for those prone to local productions. Missing the prime time slot was regarded as a viewers’ cardinal sin. This was when the character featured on television to amuse the nation.

Underrated character

Clothed in his crudely sheared shorts, and a similarly fashioned, sleeveless shirt, the gregarious character sent us into laughter hysteria even before he mentioned a word.

The barefoot garden technician unleashed mayhem to everyone who gambled to cross his path, especially those who elected to belittle his wisdom and his chosen profession.
The Late Lazarus Boora aka Gringo
One such regular victim was Toby (Enoch Chihombori), a boyfriend to his employer’s daughter, and the drama’s scriptwriter. Each time they tried to outsmart Gringo, he would aptly extinguish their efforts, humiliating them further.

Underestimating the gardener had its liabilities, as exemplified when he locked the maid’s boyfriend inside the house, exposing their shenanigans, to the appreciation of his employer. Through his misdeeds, Gringo covered his flaws by exposing his competitors.

Even his employer was not spared the torture, but he loved Gringo for his crude intelligence. The character represented underdogs, who always survived to fight another battle.

From Mukadota, Paraffin to Gringo

The 1980s comedy era belonged to the late Safirio Madzikatire, Mukadota to his followers. The Mukadota Family weekly installment charmed Zimbabweans. The main actor was a musician and comedian extraordinaire, who served the entertainment starved nation with his roguish tactics towards his family, and community.

When Mukadota passed on, the nation was robbed of a humorist who deserved national reverence, but like most local artists, he has since been forgotten.

Philip Mushangwe aka Paraffin rose to eminence with his greedy-filled episodes, in one incident wolfing a patient’s food in a hospital, claiming it was too much for an ailing person.

Paraffin’s insensitive and unbecoming character lured us back to the television sets, staying glued throughout the 30 minute weekly episodes.

The often overdressed protagonist was a rumour monger, in addition to pursuing free meals. He departed the acting scene, passing the baton to Gringo to carry the local comedy mantle.

The replacement rose to prominence portraying the role of an often misjudged professional – a gardener, disrespectfully labeled as a ‘garden boy’. Often, such people are regarded as less intelligent and called demeaning names, but Gringo sought to demystify that notion, depicting the character vividly.

His regular conflicts, antics, and calculative speech attached us to this indomitable persona, thwarting those who relished in demeaning him, and his associates.

Rise to stardom

Gringo was born in the Rusape communal areas in 1973 and launched his acting career while still at school. The actor trained in theater production, and he first appeared in a local television drama in 1997.

Later on, his exploits became a full comedy movie, Gringo the Troublemaker, by now he was at the peak of his vocation, and he had acquired the fame and accolades, but not the money. Disappointed by the diminishing returns, he temporarily shifted back to village life to pursue other interests.

Perhaps the biggest washout in Gringo’s career was the lack of technology during his peak period. Without other media channels to showcase his vast talents, the actor was confined to local television productions which are notorious for their elfin earnings, if any.

With only one TV station, production houses sell their content to ZBC only, meaning their rewards are minute. Without social media channels like YouTube, his performing role was limited to ZTV, and his talents never ventured beyond our borders, so was his earnings.

The Lazarus journey

The biblical Lazarus story is prevalent amongst local celebrities, often living on morsels, and this was prevalent in Gringo’s lifetime, until his painful end. After an illustrious acting occupation, entertaining millions of viewers, he unceremoniously vacated our screens. 

Efforts to revive his character were futile. When he fell sick, he survived on handouts from well-wishers, and on his deathbed, he complained of neglect, despite his known contribution.

Such unfortunate fate frequently befalls many of our local talents, often bidding farewell in a pitiable state. Without Gringo, life will go on, but his rib-tickling meanness will be greatly missed.

His talents were vital to the nation, just like Bill Cosby is to America, and the value attached to Mr Bean by his country. But at least he bequeathed his talents to his son, who is eager to carry his father’s legacy.

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