Oil on canvas. 2018.
O Yemi : "Most of my recent paintings are about political and social issues around the world. My concern about these issues influences me to do most of my recent paintings.
It is a common tradition in Swaziland for the King (currently King Mswati III) to choose a wife each year. The Reed Dance ceremony is an annual event held in August or September, where unmarried and childless girls and women travel from the various chiefdoms to Ludzidzini to participate in the eight-day event. Would-be brides are publicly checked to ascertain their virginity. A chosen young lady will be added to the list of the queens of Swaziland and supposedly to enjoy a life of luxury.
All is not well with some of Swazi's Queens. There have been allegations of abuse and isolation of some of the queens. Two of the wives of King Mswati III have left him. Putsoana Hwala and Delisa Magwaza left the royal house in 2004. At the age of 18, Zena Mahlangu, was allegedly abducted by royal aides to become the king’s 10th wife. Queen Nothando Dube, the 12th wife of the King, was allegedly beaten and imprisoned. Queen Senteni Masango took her own life due to depression and the misery of her royal life.
The terrible ordeal of these young ladies influenced this painting. In my usual style I depicted the lives of these unfortunate ladies as roses and thorns. Doubtlessly, the days they were selected from thousands of other young ladies would have been their happiest days with joyous anticipation of potentially rosy times ahead. The thorns are the unimaginably terrible ordeals they encountered that led Queen Senteni Masango to commit suicide. The dark hunting shadow at the background of the painting is the image of King Mswati III - the main figure behind the unhappiness of these queens. The main image in the front is one of the queens taking part in the Reed Dance before been selected to be queen. The white beads necklace depicts her virginity."