Leon Botha, Progeria Survivor, Has Passed Away
Inspirational South African artist, painter, musician and DJ Leon Botha passed away earlier today. He had just celebrated his 26th birthday the day before. He was believed to have been the longest lived progeria sufferer in the world.
A short announcement made on Botha’s Facebook Fan Page broke the news:
We are very sad to announce that Leon Botha has passed away this morning. He was and is more than a brother and inspiration 2 me and the rest of the world. Leon, the world is already missing you! May your soul rest in peace.
Born on 04 June 1985 in Cape Town, Leon was diagnosed with progeria around the age of 4 years. Progeria is an extremely rare genetic condition with symptoms that resemble aging being seen from an an early age. The disorder affects an estimated 1 in 8 million live births. Those born with progeria typically live to only their mid teens and early twenties. (Leon appears in this Carte Blanche Medical story about progeria from January 2010).
With no formal training in art beyond high school courses, Botha became a full-time graphic artist and painter after graduation, doing commissioned works.
In January 2007, he had his first solo art exhibition, entitled "Liquid Sword; I am HipHop", revolving around hip-hop culture as a way of life. It took place at the Rust-en-Vrede gallery in Durbanville and was opened by Mr Fat of the South African HipHop group Brasse Vannie Kaap.
He subsequently had a number of additional exhibitions of his work.
Leon Botha, in his own words:
I am aware that I might be the oldest person with this "condition" alive on this planet at the moment & if so, I really don’t care to know, or be labeled as such.
I’m not really in contact with medical research or the [Progeria] foundation. It has been my choice not to be. This "condition" is so rare that it just draws way too much attention.
I am too focused on living my life as it is, to constantly draw my energy or focus towards my physical "state". Just like any other human being, I don’t like to be reduced to a condition or a statistic & I sure as hell won’t end up on one of the photos to be paraded on websites to inspire pity & shit… wrong guy.
I am internally & eternally greatful that my parents raised me with the opportunity to live my life without any media exposure. As what is life other than that; a gift to be who you will to be?…
R.I.P. Leon Botha (1985 – 2011)