By Tafadzwa Zimoyo
Hundreds of mourners including some cast members from the popular soap Studio 263 yesterday came out in their numbers in Manyame Park, Chitungwiza for Anne Nhira’s memorial service and burial.
Anne, who died 11 days ago in South Africa after being mugged while coming from a prayer mountain, received a huge send off as she was laid to rest at Zororo Memorial Park cemetery on the outskirts of Chitungwiza around 11 am.
Her body arrived on Saturday from South Africa accompanied by her brothers.
She was attacked on March 8 and died on March 11 due to chest injuries.
The funeral service which started in the morning saw the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, friends, and arts practitioners in attendance as they described the late actress as not only a humble person but very humble and welcoming as she worked well with a lot of people during her time.
In fact, they honoured Anne’s life with stories, tributes, songs and laughs.
Some family members, fans and actors, among others, were dressed in all black with some in t-shirts inscribed “Anne Nhira — Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant”, a last signature statement she believed in, as was pushing for girl child empowerment in television and film sectors.
Anne affectionately known as “Vimbai Jari” in the soap and made the name Vimbai a household with the young girls who grew up watching the soap being inspired by her character.
Some local fans jostled for pictures with some of the forgotten cast from Studio 263 and other actors present.
Studio 263 cast members in attendance include Dread Welly (Kizito Mawoko), Tom Mbambo (Ben Mahaka), Tendai Jari (Zanu PF Seke-Chikomba women’s quota Member of Parliament, Tatenda Mavetera), John Huni (Stephen Chigorimbo), Mr Shereni (Ben Sibenke), Wakanaka (Charles Kapfupi) and Albert Brown who was the casting director for the soap among others.
They shared their working experience with the late and were all amazed with the gesture made by the Government on bestowing Anne with a state assisted funeral and also the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa for paying her last respects to Anne Nhira.
One of her brothers Lyon performed his own rendition verse from Elton John’s song “Candle in the Wind”.
Business came to a standstill in the morning as people from all walks of life in Chitungwiza thronged by the roadside to watch the motorcade and Anne’s hearse.
Zanu PF Seke-Chikomba women’s quota Member of Parliament, Tatenda Mavetera who took time to introduce some of the actors who worked with Anne, during her speech said that the death of Anne has united the television and film industry.
She said Anne was disciplined, full of love and committed to her career.
“We are mourning and happy at the same time as artists with how the Government has been recognising the artists from Gringo, SoulJah Love, and now Anne Nhira.
“I know there were others before but the impact now is huge. She has been honoured and we are proud.
“She was a passionate actress, she wanted things done perfectly.
“Gone are the days people used to say that acting does not pay and it is for failures. Look how Chitungwiza has been hailed. It is real, we are now being recognised, we might be acting not knowing the future but look some of us have changed,” she said.
National Arts Council director Nicholas Moyo said Anne’s life is worth celebrating.
“We would like to thank the Nhira family for allowing us to mourn one of our own, and thanks to the Government for their tremendous job in recognising our arts industry.
“We are celebrating her works today, a life that was cut short but she has left a void that is too big to fill.
“She stood, bold, brave and brilliant. Anne can be remembered for fighting for norms and values as she took the risk of petitioning the government to ban Zodwa Wabantu to come and perform in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Ben Sibenke who acted as Mr Shereni said he worked with Anne for over a decade and not even a single day the two had a misunderstanding.
He said she was a capable actress who could tackle any challenge.
“We have lost a jewel in the sense that the future productions were going to be great considering her skill and experience on screen.
“Those who have worked with her and admired her work, therefore they have to push for the betterment of the industry,” he said.
Dread Welly wemaPlan (Kizito Mawoko) who was just on his antics, jokes and smiles said we have a lost legend.
“She was a good sistren, and in Vimbai I saw the future of television as she would challenge you. A legend is gone and now is the time to continue where she has left,” he said.
Nhira’s first casting director Albert Brown said the late actress joined as a model.
“When the soap started on Anne’s role it was more of scouting models and she jumped the gun.
“She could pick any role during the casting and could advise others on the script. I can only say she was talented,” he said.
Stephen Chigorimbo said she gave hope to every girl child in Zimbabwe.
“Each time she was on screen, the young girls had hope that they can still make it.
She was an inspiration.
We had the likes of Susan Chenjerai but the era of Anne was different.
She was quick to learn and I could teach her and she would listen well. We are going to miss her,” he said.
Meanwhile a close source of the family said the investigation process is underway in South Africa on the robbers and they await to hear from the South African police soon.