Rasta gets it right: Artist’s

Lebani “Rasta” Sirenje with his painting of the late Joweph Shabalala. Image via Twitter @Lebani_Sirenje

Rasta gets it right: Artist’s latest Joseph Shabalala painting is a winner

There’s been a collective sigh of relief as Rasta’s painting of the late Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder gets a stamp of approval.

Rasta gets it right: Artist’s

Lebani “Rasta” Sirenje with his painting of the late Joweph Shabalala. Image via Twitter @Lebani_Sirenje

Zimbabwean-born painter Lebani Sirenje, fondly known as Rasta, has been so focused on his craft that he refused to let critical opinion about his work derail his efforts to honour late Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Dr Joseph Shabalala.

The revered musician was laid to rest in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend and, as per usual, Rasta was in attendance to capture his essence in a portrait. 

‘Marked improvement’ in skills

This time around, instead of garnering negative feedback for his paintwork, Rasta has actually impressed with some noting that there was a marked improvement in his skills. 

This isn’t the first time that the artist has produced a worthy painting. His portrait of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema was better than his previous attempts and it appears that Rasta can get it right. 

Previously Rasta had butchered paintings of Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, rappers HHP and Pro Kid, the late Winnie  Madikizela-Mandela and President Cyril Ramaphosa to name but a few. 


The celebrity painter attended Shabala’s funeral service and began painting before it started, completing the portrait just after the service came to an end. 

Reaction to his painting was positive on Twitter, with a user commenting that his determination was inspiring for a man who had been berated for his previous artworks. 

“Likewise. I can see the improvement. We are going to learn something very important about belief in self, persistence, and blocking out negativity from this man. I am impressed that he keeps forging ahead, and this time, while his painting is not perfect, it is better,” said Phemelo. 

Rasta: From rallies, memorials and funerals to plans for academy

Having started painting in 2002, Rasta made a name for himself by attending rallies, memorials and funerals. He has also revealed that he plans to open an academy for aspiring painters in his community of Hillbrow, in Johannesburg. He told eNCA that he is currently in the process of acquiring funds for the school. 

Some interesting facts about Rasta:

  • He moved to South Africa in 1996; 
  • His mother is from Mozambique and his father is Zimbabwean; and 
  • He is selling his painting of President Cyril Ramaphosa for R15 000.

In an interview with TimesLIVE, he said that he is passionate about painting. 

“I have been drawing for a long time — since my high school days — and it’s my passion. Something that I live for. What people don’t understand is that painting is a process and it’s not a fast process. There’s a lot of steps that must be taken from the first sketch to the final product.”