Even though he has been through a trail of misfortune, veteran actor and former radio presenter Lawrence “Bhonzo” Simbarashe is still determined to fight on.
Last year, his house in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, was burnt and property worth thousands of dollars destroyed.
Sadly, the man was inside when the fire gutted his house and he sustained burns.
His voice mysteriously disappeared when he was screaming for help, and he has not fully recovered his speech. Bhonzo has been living in misery since that time.
But in spite of the piling mishaps, Bhonzo said he is not going to give up on his career even though he is yet to fully recover his voice.
“What is happening to my voice is mysterious, sometimes it comes and I will be able to whisper but at times there will be nothing. Usually I regain my voice around midnight, with the surprising thing being that the whole day I won’t be having it.
“I have gone to different doctors and specialists but they have failed to assist me because all is normal with my voice box.”
As such, it has become a weekly routine for Bhonzo to go to Mvuma from St Mary’s to collect honey, because his voice feels better after eating a lot of honey.
The sudden disappearance of his voice seems to have had an effect on the veteran actor as at times, he sounds like he is losing his senses.
Two months ago, Bhonzo just fell down along Julius Nyerere Way and was taken to hospital by Timothy “Timmy” Tapfumanei, his erstwhile partner from the Timmy naBhonzo TV series.
When he fell he had a cut just above his right eye and lost a lot of blood, something which must be contributing to his deteriorating health, which has since forced him to move around with a bag of different medicines.
It is so sad how sometimes he easily forgets things and tries to use pills to recollect his memories. During this interview he took pills twice in a bid to stay in it.
Bhonzo is also suffering from high blood pressure and burn-outs. The mere thought that he does not have studio equipment to resuscitate his career has been driving him insane.
“I can not operate without this equipment as it is essential in my acting career and if I do not get enough money to re-assemble I am thinking of going straight to the President to tell him my plight,” said Bonzo.
The veteran actor said he will forever be grateful to Charles Jackson, who acted in the television comedy “Bhonzo neChikwata” as Doesmatter, saying he is always there for him in times of need.
“Jackson is like my father. He provides things I need and right now he is assisting in the renovation of my house.
“He plays a major role in my life. He does things that not even my children abroad can do for me, financially and morally. I have a daughter, Leona, in New Zealand, a son in the United Kingdom and another in South Africa but they have not been supporting me but Jackson has been there for me through thick and thin.”
Bhonzo is married to Pain Mugura. His other source of income, besides Jackson, are the royalties from the adverts he did sometime back.
He also has several written scripts that have not yet been used and he is hoping to get his own equipment soon to shoot them.
One of the scripts is probably the best that he has written. It has a maximum of five characters in each episode.
“I have a script at home that I hope to produce as soon as I get my own equipment and the shoots will be done in different areas. This script is going to be the best amongst all that I have written so far and I can not wait to release it.”
Bhonzo has hit hard times, given the figure that he presently cuts, compared to the Bhonzo who used to own a fleet of 11 vehicles and was once Cde Nathan
Shamuyarira’s personal driver and one of Zimbabwe’s first television producers.
“Life is what you make it” and this seems to be very true for Timothy Tapfumanei, who gained fame from the popular comedy “Timmy naBonzo”.
The other half of the duo, Timmy is doing fairly well. Fortune seems to be smiling on Timmy, one of the country’s most popular actors, who is getting opportunities almost every day.
He joined the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) way back in 1988 as a cleaner and by the time he left the corporation he had become a popular figure nationally.
After joining as a general cleaner, he was “promoted” to groundsman a year later.
In the same year, he was promoted to the position of messenger and by 1990 he was a programme compiler, where he worked for two years before he got a job on radio as a music compiler for the immensely popular Afro-pop Sounds programme, which was hosted by Kudzi Marudza.
In 1995, he was promoted to library supervisor before he became a manager of a merged library that combined all stations’ material.
Upon leaving the broadcasting concern in 2005, he joined the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), working in the Midlands region for two years.
He left the pension authority for Botswana in 2007 where he stayed four years, working as a financial advisor for a financial brokerage firm.
Back home, he spent a few months at home before he got a job as a financial advisor with a leading insurance firm.
He is currently staying in Glen Norah with his family — a wife and five children.
Although Timmy is doing other things now, he still has his acting career at heart and will be making a comeback to acting soon after his contract ends.
“I have scripts that I wrote and soon I will be rejuvenating the comedy series on radio. Currently we are engaged in talks with some radio people as we want to start off just like how we started Timmy naBhonzo on Radio Zimbabwe. Initially the programme will be five minutes, and later on it will be longer and eventually go on television.”
The new script, unfortunately, does not have a place for Mudhara Bhonzo.
He added: “I also got a contract from some people who are working on a soap that is to be on television and the soap is very interesting and the script for my character goes so well with me.”
Presently he is working on a one-hour comedy that is to be sold in the streets as a fundraising project to assist Bhonzo.
Timmy is also planning on re-establishing his record label that ceased to operate in 2005. Under the “Rocket Media Corporation” label, he hired equipment from other studios to record upcoming gospel artistes and market their music.
The inspiration to record gospel music came when Timmy was born again in 1994, whereupon he discovered the spiritual gift of singing.
“I was born again in 1994 and, in 2010, I became more a religious person than what I was before,” he explained.