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Sometimes Sol Rachilo gets lonely. But his ‘pen still navigates with ease’

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90 years old, Rachilo has been many things for South Africa’s contemporary cultural course. For the last sixty-something years, Rachilo has worked either as an actor, playwright, poet or journalist, and always as a cultural activist. (Artwork: Lindokuhle Nkosi)
90 years old, Rachilo has been many things for South Africa’s contemporary cultural course. For the last sixty-something years, Rachilo has worked either as an actor, playwright, poet or journalist, and always as a cultural activist. (Artwork: Lindokuhle Nkosi)

"I’ve been lonely, man," says Sol Rachilo after I ask how he’s doing. It’s been seconds since I joined him on the paisley couch that sits in the sunlit corner of Newtown’s jazz lounge, Niki’s Oasis. 

Now 90 years old, Rachilo has been many things for South Africa’s contemporary cultural course. For the last sixty-something years, Rachilo has worked either as an actor, playwright, poet or journalist, and always as a cultural activist. For this, the artist has received awards, access into elite spaces and nostalgic immortality. But more than accolades, his work has earned Rachilo a stream of unfulfilled commemorations, deferred promises and erasures. 

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