By Edward Tsumele

At a recent event held to celebrate veteran playwright and actor Sol Rachilo’s 90th birthday and achievements in the local arts industry, words of congratulations were heaped on the living legend.

The celebration was held at Museum Africa in Newtown. It was organised by the Siphiwe Msimango Foundation and attend by close to 100 people.

Bra Sol’s exploits in theatre, in particular, and writing, in general, have added to this country’s rich literary history.

His is a remarkable story of resilience, working under difficult financial conditions, with no support from those who control the purse strings.

Despite his acknowledged contribution to the arts, Bra Sol is not the type who attracts TV cameras or grab newspaper headlines.

For his part, Bra Sol has lived his artistic life to the fullest, and the arts community has acknowledged his immense contribution.

The well-known playwright has rubbed shoulders with some of the most influential figures in the arts and culture sector through images taken by photographer Jacob Mawela.

Despite limited resources, Bra Sol continues to soldier on, publishing books, including the award-winning Nostalgic Waves of Soweto, whose first edition was published by well-known publisher, Rose Francis. The second edition is self-published.

In the early days, Bra Sol has had a role in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead at the legendary Dorkay House in central Joburg. He got the role by chance on his way home from school. He was training to become a social worker at the time.

The director, Athol Fugard, needed an extra actor, and Bra Sol became that actor, as chance would have it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Bra Sol has since gone on to assume important roles in the arts: as a poet, actor, director and author and continues to produce literary works with little or no support at all.

In recent years, the playwright has been involved in facilitating writing workshops for the youth, supported by the Legends Fund, part of which was stolen by a well-known playwright who is now late.

But more needs to be done to rope in the right and relevant skills. Not only people of Bra Sol’s calibre can be part of the process, but several others with the experience and skills set to teach up-and-coming artists.

The fund should benefit, not only the elite in the arts sector, but also the likes of Bra Sol.

For those not in the know, Bra Sol once founded and led a school of the arts known as the Children of Soweto Arts Centre (Cosac), where young people wanting to acquire skills in acting were trained.

The Legends Fund must be used for such good causes among other things. –

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