Zimbabwean artist Lebani 'Rasta' Sirenje unveils Queen Elizabeth's portrait: Help me attend her funeral


AS NEWS of the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made headlines on Thursday night, people from different walks of life expressed opinions.

The 96-year-old monarch died at her Scottish Highlands residence, Balmoral, with her immediate family flying in to be by her side.

In South Africa, Zimbabwean-born artist Lebani “Rasta” Sirenje has devotedly attended arguably every funeral of a high-profile person and paid tribute to the departed luminary in the form of a portrait.

Some of the famous work done by Rasta in recent times includes portraits of the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. The artist travelled from his Joburg base to Nongoma, in Kwazulu-natal, with two large portraits of the late king.

Moments after news of the demise of the British monarch, a signature Rasta photo, showing the artist holding a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, started circulating on social media.

The Pretoria News reached out to Rasta to find out if he has travel plans.

Rasta did not disappoint: “Yes, as I always pay tribute to the late legends, I see it fitting too to go to the funeral, and I have been doing this since I have realised that my art is important,” the artist said.

“The painting is trending now so I’m willing. If I can go, that will boost my career as well, to be seen by the world.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday expressed his “profound and sincere condolences” on the death of Queen Elizabeth II, in a statement addressed to the new king, her oldestson, Charles III.

“Her Majesty was an extraordinary and world-renowned public figure who lived a remarkable life. Her life and legacy will be fondly remembered by many around the world,” Ramaphosa said.

“The queen’s commitment and dedication during her 70 years on the throne remains a noble and virtuous example to the entire world.”

Ramaphosa and the queen met at the last Commonwealth meeting which was held in London in 2018, where they spent some time looking at letters that Nelson Mandela sent to the queen, reminiscing about the great statesman “that Her Majesty respected enormously”.

Ramaphosa said South Africa’s thoughts and prayers were with the royal family, the government and people of the UK as they mourn their “immense” loss.

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history, died at the age of 96 in her Scottish summer residence following nearly a year of ailing health.

British media have reported that the country it is going to be a hive of activity for the next 10 days.

On the seventh day, world leaders will begin to arrive to pay their respects at Westminster Hall.

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