Misfortune haunts Bhonzo

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For many comedy lovers, the name Lawrence “Bhonzo” Simbarashe evokes a string of humourous memories.

Famed for his lead role in the television series Bhonzo Nechikwata, the actor, broadcaster and advertiser is ranked among the most talented artists of his era.

His powerful voice was always outstanding and unmistakable. The voice was a natural gift put to good use.

But successive misfortunes have over the past years drained all the energy, humour and creativity from the veteran artist.

After battling a blood pressure-related ailment for almost two years, Bhonzo, in addition, lost most of his household property when his house was gutted by fire in December last year.

Now, the comedian has lost his voice.
When NewsDay visited his house in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, Bhonzo’s tale was emotive. His voice is hardly audible and the expression on his face betrayed a stressed mind.

His wife Pain Mugura narrated the family’s ordeal while Bhonzo merely nodded. At times he just sat staring at the ground with a worried look.

“Things have not been good for us. My husband can no longer speak properly and that means he can no longer do his job,” said Mugura.

“He is no longer the Bhonzo you used to know. He used to joke with visitors, but now he can no longer do it. Doctors have failed to diagnose the problem with his voice and the general belief in the family is that he was bewitched.

“There is no way he can do commercials when he has no voice. We were surviving on his advertising contracts before he fell ill and it is now worse because we have no income. We cannot replace property that was burnt and we cannot send our last-born to school. Putting food on the table has become a daunting task.”

Simbarashe’s six-roomed house is still to be renovated. The lounge that used to house sofas, a fridge, television, computer, radio and other electrical gadgets is now an empty space save for two old garden chairs.

Broken asbestos sheets have been heaped on burnt beams as a makeshift roof.

“When it rains water fills these three rooms and we have to scoop it out to ensure it does not flow to habitable rooms. When it rains at night water flows into our bedrooms and we wake up in a pool.”

Mugura is a cross-border trader, but she can no longer travel without leaving sufficient security in place at the house. A new main door donated by a friend does not have a lock while windows no longer have panes.

“Bhonzo is stressed out and his blood pressure at times reaches alarming levels. Sometimes I try to talk to him, but he just stares at me without uttering a word. He is seriously depressed. We are grateful to some of his friends that sometimes assist him with cash and clothes.”

Mugura said they were now living on donations because they had exhausted their savings on Bhonzo’s medication. Once a jovial and lively character, Bhonzo could not do more than slowly wave at these reporters as a parting sign.