Tyra Chikocho, well known as Madam Boss, is a multitalented woman, wife and mother. She grew up going back and forth between Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, and rural areas.
“Childhood was painful and tough..my mum passed on when I was in Grade 6,” Tyra told The Weight She Carries.” I was left brokenhearted as my mother had been sick for some time but requested to be discharged so she [could spend] time with her children. The last moments were painful as she asked me if the wounds in my head had dried up. After that, she held my hand and would not let go. One of our relatives then realized that indeed, my mum had passed on.”
This was a terrifying event because it meant that Tyra was now orphaned. Her father had passed away when she was 2 weeks old.
Tyra mentioned that when her mum, who was the sole breadwinner, passed away, she had to start working in the rural areas as a maid. She worked for her mother’s friend and sold different things during the day. This caused her to became familiar with different people.
“After a year, my sister took me to Budiriro, which is a high-density suburb located in the capital city of Harare. All treatment was good. I did not like school and was not academically gifted. In my O Levels, I came out with mostly U’s, which in the Zimbabwean school curriculum indicated I may have scored a zero or close to it in the respective subjects,” she said.
Tyra went to Ngundu, a village in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, to work and later moved to South Africa in search of greener pastures where she continued as a maid.
“One day, a Nigerian man approached me and complimented [me] on my body. He was perplexed to know I was working as a maid, yet to him, I was obviously deserving better,” Tyra said. “He owned an internet cafe and offered to teach me computers. I acquired knowledge, and without much time passing, I decided to go back home. But I did not have anything to do because I had no qualification. I was idle for some time till my sister guided me to get something productive to do. I then decided on the path [comedy] I intended to take.”
How did you think of doing comedy?
First, you have to make sure it’s for you. If it’s for you, then you won’t force success, especially being a woman. It’s not easy making people laugh or even listen to you, but once you find that rhythm and you have the talent, then don’t stop.
Comedy, especially in Zimbabwe, hasn’t reached the level that it has reached in countries like SA, USA and even Kenya, but compared to the days of Mukadota [and similar comedians], I would say we are now headed in the right direction. I say that because now, there are quite a lot of comedians that are surviving just out of being comedians.
So, in a nutshell, I would say we are headed in the right direction. Takutokwanisa kubhadhara magetsi naiyo comedy iyi (we’re even able to afford to pay for electricity through our work as comedians), but you’ve [got] to be extremely talented and creative to make it in comedy, especially if you are a woman.
How did you start comedy?
When I started, I was doing maid skits, so I posted a video, and one fan said I should be called Madam Boss. I don’t even recall who it was. I changed even the name of my page. Some of our skits are written by Ngoni, my husband. It was interesting to come up with the role as I associated well with it through my experience as a maid.
Was comedy an outlet for you? Was it difficult putting yourself out there for an audience to judge you in the beginning?
I would say for me it happened so quickly. The audience was easy because from the first video I made, my audience started texting me to say, “Please do some more. We love your stuff.” Like I already told you, the name Madam Boss came from my fans. Again, if you have the talent and people can see that this person is really funny and is not trying too hard to be famous, they will accept you.
However, it wasn’t always rosy…Some people thought some of my acting is not really for a married woman…so people tend to judge me for that. But that only shows me how good I am at convincing people through my acting. Because if what I do behind the camera makes people think it’s that real, then I’m a genius [and I] should keep going…An example of good actresses is Patience Ozongwo. She often acts as a ruthless mother-in-law. She is so good at it to point that people think she like that in real life, yet she actually very sweet and humble.
It was hard in the beginning, but because my family, especially my husband, accepted what I do to a point that he joined into the business, it made everything doable and easy for me.
How have you managed social media bullying as a comedian?
At first, I used to be affected by social media bullying but realized later on, social media stuff should not be taken seriously. And above all, I have a good team, family and management. I can take the whole day offline working on other stuff.
I have grown a thick skin as before I became a celebrity, I had a private life. When I became a public figure, people would fabricate stories about me which [were] negative. This was a setback and threat to my marriage and reputation. Fortunately, my husband would always be there to comfort me through thick and thin.
What are your key achievements?
Madam Boss brand is now international. We have half a million followers on Facebook, and 400,000 on Instagram. Through the brand, we have managed to open other companies such as Delivery Lady, which is an application to help Zimbabweans to make transactions online, [as well as] Madam Boss beauty products. We have also managed to work with big brands in Zimbabwe such as NetOne, Econet and Nyaradzo. I have a lot of projects I am working on. I do charity work. Not many know that I am paying school fees for some children in Madziva.
What is your advice to upcoming and aspiring artists?
Be focused. Social media is different from other media. Many people will say what they want, which can lead to destruction. Give a deaf ear to those who are negative, of course weighing to deduce constructive criticism.
Have a vision on where you want to go and be prepared for all things that may come your way.
Concentrate on things that add value.
Be able to distinguish between a rival and a follower.
● A series of Madamboss online Educational Content
● ZIBA Brand of the year 2017 (Social Media)
● ZIBA Social Media Zimbabwe Top Business Brand
● Top Female Entertainment Entrepreneur of the year 2017
● African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum Brand Ambassador
● Global Shapers Young Social Media Personality of the year 2018
● Permican Awards Nominee South Africa
● Woman of the year in Digital and Social Media Broadcasting Leadership Excellence 2018
● ZIWA People’s Choice Award 2018
You can find Tyra via:
+263785857955 (Zimbabwe) or +27735300996 (South Africa)
Facebook: Madam Boss