In February 2022, South Africa, and the music and fashion industries mourned the passing of icon, rapper and businessman Rikhado Makhado, popularly known as Riky Rick. He left behind his beautiful partner Bianca Naidoo and two children. We sat down with Bianca about this devastating loss she has had to share with many South Africans who adored the award winning rapper.
“It’s indescribable. There are no words that could really express how this feels. When people ask how I’m doing, I don’t always know how to answer them.” She says, carefully putting the words together.
It’s one thing to lose someone you love but having to lose that person publicly makes the grieving process that much harder.
“Life carries on, I know. It happens and you have to keep moving because there is no other way. You have to keep moving for your kids, the people around you and most importantly to not allow all his work to wither away – to make sure we keep those things alive.”
Every day is different for Bianca. Some days she manages to cope and other days she allows herself to go through the emotions of the deep loss and missing her partner.
When she thinks about the day Riky passed on and the days that followed, she remembers how she found herself being comforted and comforting others through this loss.
“I don’t know where that strength came from. There is so much I don’t remember from that time. I was floating and it felt like I was somewhere else.”
Riky’s death only sank in months later for Bianca, the week of Father’s Day in June.
She needed to take some time out and release the emotions she was holding back.
“I speak to Riky a lot as I navigate my emotions. I express myself to him on my hard days and my happy days.”
Bianca has been in the spotlight a lot lately, navigating different events surrounding Riky, representing him and also coming out of her own shell.
“The spotlight was for Riky, I would always try to protect him from unnecessary noise, that came naturally to me, I am a nurturer.
The spotlight was never her comfort zone but she and Riky made sure their children were able to live a normal, balanced life and they continue to maintain that balance.
“I am now doing it with the love and support from both our families.”
Bianca’s bond with Riky was consistent. From the time they first met years ago, to them becoming a family and business partners.
“We had the most beautiful, honest and transparent relationship…we shared a lot. There’s a five year age difference between us and we dealt with things differently. It was new for me to come into a relationship with someone growing in the public eye.
He was always aware of how I felt and taught me how to not listen to the noise. Our relationship was perfect to me because we respected each other.”
“There are so many things he protected me from that I was not even aware of and I see it now. Right now I take each day as it comes.
It sounds crazy at times but I feel completely guided. My mindset is ‘whatever comes today, I will tackle it.”
Losing Riky has also given Bianca the strength to allow herself to open up more about her feelings.
“As a person who keeps things inside, I deal with stuff better by just processing and figuring out what I will do next. Once I get to that stage of sharing, I do.”
“When we met we were so compatible, we felt the same way. Our first dinner was so easy, we spoke and laughed.
The relationship they had with each other’s families was intrinsic, almost like they were from the same connection in a past life.”
Earlier in the year, a video of the couple dancing went viral for all the wrong reasons on social media.
Bianca explains how that video reaction angered and upset Riky: “He was so angry that doing something so real could be turned upside down. I used to say to him – because social media used to bother him when it was negative – people are always going to say what they want to say but we know what it is, you know what your truth is. I am an introvert and he never made me feel uncomfortable.”
For her Riky was more than just a human on this earth, he was the most amazing person.
“I thank God it was me who was given these 10 years to give him the love and support he deserved. I believe I was put there for that time so he could carry out his mission. What comes after for me…I am not sure yet.”
Life with Riky taught Bianca about the beauty of love. “When I think back on our time together, in everything we did, he just had a way of making me feel important, always. I knew when to back off and when to put pressure, in a gentle and loving way. I was his safe space and he was mine too. There was so much respect, he treated me like a queen, and gave me love I had never experienced.”
The couple’s eight year old son Maik is just like his father. Riky is instilled in him from his mannerisms to his introverted ways. “We speak about him often, his memory is sharp, he remembers everything.”
The year of 40
Bianca and Riky had big plans for her 40th birthday which she recently celebrated. “Turning 40 was a big thing, so approaching it, I was unsure whether to celebrate or not. For me, it was something I would have loved to have shared with him.”
While she doesn’t know what 40 will bring, Bianca is going to just let life happen.
“I will just let it blossom. What is meant for me will be. In the last two years I have been searching for my purpose, I keep praying about it. I feel I have to help people and make a change in the world, and serve in a greater way.”
Bianca loves to see people happy. People make her spirit come alive.
“I always say to my kids, when people see you make sure they see God. If you can help make a difference, do that.
When asked about how she looks after herself and what makes her happy; being there for her loved ones is a top priority for Bianca. Her love for family and friends gives her peace and fulfilment. She loves being home with her kids, and having friends over. She also makes time to do small things for herself, like getting her lashes and nails done. Being at home and working makes her happy.
I’ve started to tap out when I’m not ok. It used to be very hard. I would get anxiety because I felt I wasn’t on the ball but I feel a lot better now. It’s not the end of the world if I focus on me for a while.”
Riky’s youth festival, CottonFest had to go on without him and it was a difficult time for the family and the team.
“It was damn hard working without him. I just put on blinkers, worked and did what needed to be done. It was only on that first day of the event that I allowed myself to feel. I cried.”
“There were just so many things attached to the festival and not having him around was really hard. I am glad it worked out so well. He was a perfectionist and that is something I battled with because I always questioned if he would approve.”
There is nothing Bianca does where she does not think about Riky who also played the role of her personal stylist among other things. “It’s every single second; from buying bread to fetching the kids to waking up in the morning. He’s in everything I do.”
Bianca is grateful that the entertainment industry has been kind to her since Riky’s passing.
“I do feel the love and support and I am grateful for the close people who have been consistent. I am proud of Riky’s fight. He fought to make it through the industry, for his friends and family. I am forever proud of him for that.”
She says while there is so much support, there are still people out there who are ignorant to mental health and she finds that frustrating.
Bianca is grateful for the lessons Riky taught her.
“I have done things I never expected to do in my life. I have a lot to thank him for in the way he taught me to love myself and be proud. Being aware of what I do for others and not feeling like I’m not doing enough. He taught me so many things. Where I am now has a lot to do with him, I learnt the most in the last 10 years. I want the world to know about Riky, they don’t know enough.”
“There is nothing he didn’t know. He knew how much I loved him, there was never doubt that he was indeed my everything.”
Bianca is focusing on the future now – plans for the next CottonFest, sorting out the merchandise, helping other artists and working on special projects with family.
“There is no pressure to get things done in one go, we want to make an actual difference in this country, work on things that mattered to Riky. We want to make a real change in society.”
Interview: Bonnie Meslane & Sibongile Gangxa
Cover story: Mpiletso Motumi
Editor-in-Chief: Bonnie Meslane
Managing Editor: Sekelwa Mpambo
Photographer: Katlego Mokubyane
Creative Director: Lesego Kgosimolao
Styling: Advice by Kgosi
Makeup: Caroline Greeff
Wardrobe assistants: Bongiwe Masina & Michael
Studio: Newkatz Studio
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