Leon Botha

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Leon Botha
Leon Botha.jpg
Born (1985-06-04)4 June 1985
Cape Town, South Africa
Died 5 June 2011(2011-06-05) (aged 26)
Cape Town
Occupation Painter, entertainer
Years active 2007–2011

Leon Botha (4 June 1985 – 5 June 2011) was a South African painter and disk jockey who also appeared in many music videos and opened concerts with the South African music group, Die Antwoord, as well as one of the world's oldest survivors of progeria.[1]


Botha was born in Cape Town, South Africa and lived there until his death. He was diagnosed with progeria around the age of 4 years. He had no formal training in art beyond high school courses at the Tygerberg Art Centre, but became a full-time painter after graduation, doing commissioned works.[citation needed]

In 2005, Botha successfully underwent heart bypass surgery to prevent a heart attack due to progeria-related atherosclerosis.[2]

In January 2007, Botha had his first solo art exhibition, entitled "Liquid Sword; I am HipHop", revolving around hip-hop culture as a way of life.[3] It took place at the Rust-en-Vrede (which translates to Quiet and Peace) gallery in Durbanville and was opened by Mr Fat of the South African hip hop group Brasse Vannie Kaap.[4] His second solo exhibition opened in March 2009 and featured pieces of the artist's life. Botha was asked if the title "Liquid Swords; Slices of Lemon" referred to the adage "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Botha said no, adding, "Lemons? I slice 'em and serve 'em back!"[5]

In January 2010 he hosted the first exhibit of Who Am I? Transgressions, a photo collaboration with Gordon Clark, at the João Ferreira Gallery in Cape Town.[6] Botha said of the exhibition, "I am a spiritual being, the same as you, primarily. Then I'm a human being and this part of the human being is the body, which has a condition."[7]

Botha was also engaged in deejaying and turntablism under the name DJ Solarize.[8] He was featured alongside Watkin Tudor Jones, aka Ninja, in the music video "Enter the Ninja" from Die Antwoord.[9]

In November 2010, Botha suffered a stroke.[10] Botha died from complications of progeria in Cape Town one day after his 26th birthday.[11]

Botha was the inspiration for the one-act opera Solarize, by Marcin Stańczyk, libretto by Andrzej Szpindler, which debuted in Warsaw in April 2014 at Teatr Wielki, the Polish National Opera.[12]


  1. ^ Staff report (14 January 2010). Transcend and Transgress, Mail & Guardian
  2. ^ Sampson, Lin (17 October 2009). "Coming of Age: Cover Story", The Times
  3. ^ van Zyl, Peter (11 January 2007). Art from my hip-hop heart. YOU
  4. ^
    • Scholtz, Vennessa (18 January 2007). Leon uses the paintbrush as a 'weapon.' Tygertalk
    • Harris, Simone. Leon Botha: Time to work. HYPE magazine (South Africa)
  5. ^ Peters, Melanie (11 April 2009). Progeria victim finds life in art. Independent on Saturday, South Africa
  6. ^ Clifford-Holmes, Lauren (15 January 2010). The Fibre of Reality, Mail & Guardian
  7. ^ Clark, Gordon, and Leon Botha (2010). "Who Am I? ...Transgressions" via YouTube
  8. ^
    • Music (6 June 2011). Leon Botha Passes at 26 Years Young. Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Dont Party
    • Barshad, Amos (2 March 2010). Mysterious Internet Sensation Die Antwoord on Why They’re For Real, Maybe. New York (accessed 20 March 2010).
  9. ^
    • Niesner, Chase (19 February 2010). Thank God for Die Antwoord. Archived 23 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Yale Daily News
    • Jardin, Xeni (3 February 2010). Die Antwoord, S. African zef-rap, and Progeria survivor Leon Botha. Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Boing Boing
    • Barna, Ben (26 August 2010). Straight Outta Cape Town, Die Antwoord Invades America. BlackBook
    • Marchese, David (August 2010). Breaking Out: Die Antwoord, p. 50 SPIN.
  10. ^
    • Morris, Christopher (7 June 2011). DJ Leon Botha dies at 26. Variety
    • Staff report (6 June 2011). Local artist dies. iAfrica
  11. ^
    • Staff report (6 June 2011). Die Antwoord collaborator Leon Botha dies, age 26. Mail & Guardian
    • Aboobaker, Shanti (7 June 2011). Cape DJ dies of Progeria. Independent Online
  12. ^ http://www.teatrwielki.pl/repertuar/opera/kalendarium/projekt_p-1.html

External links

  • Leon Botha's profile from africanhiphop.com, at archive.org
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