Bra John Selolwane finally recognized

For more than 60 years, the very same industry that he moulded failed to honour and recognise him despite his visible achievements.

He is currently visually impaired and does not perform on stage anymore.

Legendary guitarist, Bra John Selolwane finally got what he deserves this week when the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development through their annual President’s Day competitions awarded Bra John Selolwane the Best in Mentoring (Performing Arts) prize.

When receiving the accolade, Bra John, a man with a universal brand joyfully danced next to President Mokweetsi Masisi after getting what he had been yearning for after all these years.

He was once one of the most famous Batswana due to his talents and travels, and even shared the limelight with the greats like American singer-songwriter Paul Simon.

The crowd at the Gaborone International Convention Centre gave him a loud applause as his wife guided him off the stage.  “Thank you, finally I have been recognised after these 60 years doing music.  I have been around for a long time and contributed a lot to this industry, it was long overdue,” Bra John told Arts & Culture after the awards.  He said he felt satisfied because he had played a part in showing everyone that Botswana can also produce great artists.

Bra John said he had mentored a lot of musicians locally and still feels that the music here is of world class. “I

do listen to local artists not based on genre. Batswana should support local artists so that the success can spread around the world,” he said. Bra John said he grew up in a musical family and his father, the late Blackie Selolwane was a recording artist in the early 1950s playing a saxophone.

Despite battling with sight and old age, Bra John said that he is always available for anyone who wants his advice.

Even though, there is no solo project under his name, Bra John’s legacy can be traced down memory lane.

He was part of Caiphus Semenya’s Buwa musical that toured Africa.

He also played and recorded albums with the late Bra Hugh Masekela whom he met during the latter’s exile in Botswana. He formed Kalahari with founding members like Banjo Mosele, Lekofi Sejeso, Aubrey Woki, Gino Maposa and Whyte Kgopo. He performed at the Grammy Awards alongside Stevie Wonder in 1988 and was part of the musical development of Sarafina, a play later turned to film, with Bra Hugh Masekela.

He also performed at the official opening of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea as a music director for Miriam Makeba.  He had travelled the world where he played with late legends like Ray Phiri and Sipho Gumede.




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