HARARE – Veteran actor and producer Stephen Chigorimbo, best known for his role as John Huni in the local soap Studio 263, is now a cleric.
Chigorimbo’s face was a popular feature on television screens in the early 2000s where he played the father of the rebellious Joyce Huni (Tinopona Katsande).
“I am actually a leader of a church, the Apostolic Holy Church and it has been three years now. It is an apostolic sect, not Pentecostal. Ndinotopfeka gemenzi rewhite.
(I actually wear a white garment) I cannot keep a beard because of my film work. This was greatly opposed by my family.
“The church has more than 30 branches countrywide, but mine is still new, with a membership of less than 20.
“I inherited the leadership from my late uncle, Phineas Chigorimbo. He died in 2012 and the church leadership approached me, asking that I take over from my uncle,” said the soft-spoken Chigorimbo.
The 65-year-old actor, script writer, director and producer said it was not a new thing.
“I have been a Christian leader for a long time. In the 1970s we founded
Alpha Abundant Life for All with Richmond Chiundiza of Glad Tidings as well as Phineas Dube. During those days, we were young Christians.
“I was baptised when I was 13 in the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) and I was also in the choir. I used to perform in church plays; I remember playing Goliath at eight years old as I was taller than the other children.
“My father was an evangelist from AFM and he started the Avondale, Marlborough and Marbelreign branches. Being a pastor’s son, I would move around with him and sing in the choir.
“Performing in front of audiences was a part of my upbringing; therefore it made it easier for me to be an actor,” he said.
He is also a sportsman, with a particular interest in golf.
“I am also a sportsman, a keen golfer with a 10 handicap. People always write about me as an actor but it has always been my whole life.
“My parents and grandparents were artistic, my mother was in the choir and my paternal grandfather was a well-known drummer, he used to play eight drums.
“My uncles were legendary AFM apostles, one Chihari (John Gwanzura). This then led me to be one of the founders of AFM churches in the medium and low density suburbs.
“We were in Waterfalls with Titus Murefu and others and went on to start an assembly in Groombridge. In just six months, we had outgrown that one and moved to Kingsmead.
“We were also conducting campus crusades together with Andrew Wutawunashe, David Dawanyi where we would visit school campuses and speak to educationists,” he said.
He then left AFM for Assemblies of God Ministries (AOG) as the former did not meet his needs.
“I was politically conscious and the missionaries’ behaviour was supportive of the white government which was repressive. AOG was in both the white and black communities and it did not segregate in terms of church services. We would attend services in the white suburbs without being kicked out.
“When the black government came into power in 1980, we would preach to ministers and Members of Parliament.”
Apart from ministerial work, Chigorimbo has upcoming projects lined up for release.
“We are very busy in spite of the harsh environment in Zimbabwe and the region. The film industry is actually one of those which constantly creates more and more jobs. It cuts across from being a surrogate to other countries, it is homogeneous.
“There are two feature films in post-production; one of them titled Shave is scheduled for release in the next six weeks. It is a local production written by Admire Maramba (who also wrote Estate Blues).
“There is another one, Living in Limbo scheduled for release in 12 months. It was written by the late Ollie Maruma, we shot it a long time ago but there were complications affecting its release.”
He also has a weekly reality show titled Trading Champions about people involved in buying and selling.
There is also a sports programme on golf he is working on.
Chigorimbo has worked on over 60 international productions, some of which include Cry Freedom, Mandela, Jake Speed, King Solomon’s Mines, Freestate, Shamwari, Incident at Victoria Falls and others.