Fans say goodbye to a beloved South African rapper the only way they know how – through a full blown street party.

Rikhado ‘Riky Rick’ Makhado (34) passed away on the morning of Wednesday, February 23, 2022. His family had not confirmed his cause of death when news of his passing first became public, but it was later revealed that he died by suicide.

Attendees wore t-shirts with words of kindness and love. Photo: Kemiso Wessie

In an emotional episode of  the Lab Live podcast, in September 2020, Riky Rick said suicidal thoughts were not new to him, as he struggled with chronic depression and anxiety. Many took to social media to express their grief over the musician’s death, sparking a broader conversation on mental health in South Africa and the high levels of male suicide.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Suicide Worldwide In 2019 report of South Africa’s 13 774 suicides, 10 861 were male suicides and 2 913 were female. Riky Rick’s death became a catalyst for South Africans to openly discuss male suicide and mental illness in the black community.

The rapper’s funeral took place on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 but fans organised a tribute walk in Braamfontein on Saturday, March 5, 2022 to bid farewell in a jovial, after-tears-like gathering on De Beer Street. The artist’s well-known music blasted through speakers while organisers and the MC took turns rapping and cheering on the crowd.

Some attendees donned the colours of the annual music festival Riky Rick started, Cotton Fest: yellow and white, others wore all black and a few wore Cotton Fest branded hoodies and t-shirts.

From left: Kwazi Ndebele, Nicole van Staden and Ole Seepamore showed their love for the rapper on Saturday. Photo: Kemiso Wessie 

Attendee, Sibongakonke Dlamini (22) comments that a safe environment for discussions of mental illness needs to be created and it shouldn’t take someone famous passing away for people to talk openly and honestly about suicide and depression.  She said the musician represented so much of who she is, “South African hip-hop culture raised me and especially when Riky was coming up.”

Broadcaster and media personality, Penny Lebyane (45) says the traumas associated with blackness in South Africa don’t prepare you for the troubles you will face, “You don’t get taught but you have to learn how to cope.”

Another attendee, Katleho Mooko (22) expresses that Riky Rick’s death serves as an unfortunate reminder to be vulnerable, but as a man it’s difficult to do so. He includes that the way Riky Rick used his celebrity to always give young people a chance and recognise their greatness reminds him you should always share and help others when you’re in the position to, no matter who you are.

FEATURED IMAGE:  Riky Rick’s belief in young people will forever be remembered. Photo: Kemiso Wessie