South Africa: Rapper Riky Rick's life celebrated at memorial service

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"He felt too deeply, and he loved too much," said his brother in an inspiring tribute. However, Riky Rick could not stay any longer to exhibit that love to his friends and family as he parted way with the world on February 23 at age 34.

Friends, family and colleagues gathered at Imperial Wanderers Stadium Johannesburg on Friday to honour the life of the multiple award-winning rapper.

Celebrating his life in music, the public memorial witnessed performances by Lloyiso, Costa Titch, Frank Casino and more.

Speaking at his memorial, which followed a funeral service on Tuesday, Riky's brother Sheikani Makhado said his brother "lived a life full of experiences in such a short time."

"He managed to be a trailblazer and set this country on fire," he added. When describing his brother, he used the words genius, pioneer and visionary.

"He had a heart made of gold, and he would not let anyone behind. That notion of inclusivity is evident and visible right now in this stadium."

"Though often misunderstood, he was able to paint vivid pictures through his music, and his legacy will live on through his children, my sister Bianca, my mom, my brothers, our close family and friends," he added.

Sheikani emphasised Riky's love and adoration for his family, adding: "family values was the cornerstone of his legacy."

"A lot of people see Riky and see the lights and high life, but we actually come from very humble beginnings," adding that Riky's legacy proves that "boundaries are here to be broken." "Your energy and life force will forever remain," he said of his brother.

"His nature was beautiful. Kind and empathetic. A real humanitarian and a lover…"He was a great thinker on top of endless creativity," he said.

The tributes have extended to social media as fans wish the Riky a farewell.

DJ Black Coffee‘s tribute to Riky Rick at his memorial service got many emotional spreading all over social media

For many fans of the late rapper, who poured their tribute on social media, the star paid a touching tribute as he spoke nothing but the truth.

He even went ahead to recall his last conversation with Riky Rick.

Who was Riky Rick?

Real name Rikhado Makhado, Riky Rick, grew up in KwaMashu - a town created for black people in the coastal city of Durban by the white-minority regime that ruled until Nelson Mandela's ascent to power in 1994.

He appeared to have it all - (a lovely family (he leaves behind a wife and two children) and a successful music career, which also saw him mentoring up and coming artists.

However, behind what seemed like a beautiful life, only a few knew that he had been struggling for years with depression.

In 2020, he had stated in a live podcast he hosted: "There are two sides of Riky, one side that's a family man… and I've also got this other side that is a boisterous Liberace mixed with Slick Rick type character.

"It's been a hard, hard road for me in these past couple of years trying to decide when I present something to the world, which side am I presenting," he said.

Ricky Rik rose to mainstream fame in 2014 with the hit single Nafukwa.

The following year he released his first studio album, aptly named Family Values, which included the hit song Boss Zonke, clearly indicating which side of himself he wanted to present to the world.

His music fused a charismatic blend of hip-hop and kwaito synced well with young people.

His influence in South African hip-hop circles was solidified through the creation of Cotton Fest, an urban culture platform for up and coming and established artists to showcase their talent.

High suicide rate

Riky Rick's struggles with fame while trying to be an ordinary person is something that resonates with music promoter Kutloano "DA Kruk" Nhlapo, who knew the rapper since his student days.

"Our biggest drug is the buzz of being on stage and performing and feeding off the energy. Once that energy wears off, then you realise that you're no different to the next man walking down the street." The music promoter said.

Riky Rick's death has brought to light issues around men's mental health, the fragility of masculinity and how it is manifesting itself in ever-increasing suicide rates in the world.

"The big boys don't cry attitude and the patriarchal mindset and some of the cultural beliefs surrounding mental health are some of the challenges facing South Africa at the moment," said Garron Gesll, founder of the Men's Foundation, an organisation that promotes mental health awareness for men.

"We are facing one of the highest suicide rates in the world. South Africa has an average of 200 attempted suicides every day and approximately 20 to 22 suicides," Mr Gesll said in an interview with the BBC.

Three southern African states - Lesotho, Eswatini and South Africa - were among the countries with the highest suicide rates in the world in 2019, according to a World Population Review survey.

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