Rasta undeterred by death threats as he pays tribute to King Goodwill Zwelithini

Rasta undeterred by death threats as he pays tribute to King Goodwill Zwelithini

The controversial artist is paying homage to the life of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini in his own way.


Local artist Lebani “Rasta” Sirenje is known to be quite controversial in his craft and today, the famous painter has unveiled two portraits of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini as he celebrates his legacy in KZN - despite receiving death threats.

The late king passed away in a Durban hospital on Friday last week and was laid to rest on Wednesday in a private ceremony.

READ: Mourners flock from across the country to bid farewell to King Zwelithini

In an interview with Times Live outside the KwaKhethomthandayo Palace in Nongoma, Rasta says that “We learnt about King Goodwill Zwelithini when we were still in school so for me, the history is still on with the king. So it's very significant to me as an African.” 

He adds that it was important for him to make the journey despite the threats on his life. “He allowed me to be brave to come all the way from JHB. People were threatening me [on social media] in a way that I was scared to come to KZN, but I managed to say this is what I do, this is what I love and this is how I celebrate the legend who has passed on.”

READ: King Zwelithini ‘planted’, memorial service to follow

The artist says that he will present one of the portraits of the king to the royal family and plans to keep the second one to exhibit and potentially sell at a later stage. Rasta adds that he hasn’t made a decision on which portrait he is going to present to the royal family just yet.

As mourners continue to flock to the palace to pay their final respects to the king, many have been breaking COVID-19 protocols by not wearing masks or practising social distancing.

READ: Eskom suspends loadshedding for duration of Zulu king's memorial service

Traditional prime minister to the late amaZulu king, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has pleaded with mourners not to travel to Nongoma because funerals are considered super-spreader events.

“It unconscionable to allow His Majesty's passing to become the cause of further deaths among His Majesty's people. It has therefore been necessary to take the difficult decision for the late King not to be laid in state,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver a eulogy at the late king’s memorial service today.

Image courtesy: Zimasa Matiwane

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