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Uncle John Selolwane: A self-made legend

Without doubt Uncle John Selolwane needs no introduction in the music circles, he is among the pioneers who crafted the local music industry – his emphasis on Jazz.

He knows America more than the Americans; he performed at the Grammy Awards alongside Stevie Wonder in 1988, he co-authored Sarafina Film with Bra Hugh Masekela; he has performed for some of Africa’s respected Statesmen in Jomo Kenyatta, Haile Selassie, Kenneth Kaunda, and Julius Nyerere among others. He also performed at the official opening of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea that came to be known as Games of the XXIV Olympiad, WeekendLife Editor DAVE BAAITSE unlocks part of this history, the life of a living superman and self made musician.


Having lost his son almost a month back, Uncle John is still a grieving man; but despite the circumstances he welcomes us at his Broadhurst Home in the Capital Gaborone with a smile, as old as he is now he is capable of bending one’s ear with history and he is up to date with current affairs. An unfortunate incident in which he mysteriously lost his son indisputably broke his heart, age aside; he looked a bit pale compared to the last time I saw him perform at Botswana Craft.

 

He constantly lights his cigarettes in what appeared like a stress relief strategy but his narration of events from growing up staying with his parents in the then Rhodesia currently Zimbabwe to becoming a hero he is, was well articulated and put in a more logical manner to the extent that he still recalls the dates of events as far back as 1950.


Uncle John Selolwane is the son of the late Blackie Selolwane, a former sportsman who played for the Bechuanaland II where he even broke his leg, that’s probably where the renowned Zebras skipper Diphetogo ‘Dipsy’ Selolwane got his mojo. Blackie was also a recording artist in the early 1950’s playing a saxophone and by extent a politician who kept close ties with the likes of the late Mpho Motsamai and KT Motsete.


A visually impaired Uncle John as he prefers to be called strums his most favourite Yamaha guitar in a very low key, one could tell from his facial expression the intimacy he has with this guitar. It was at this particular juncture that his sweetheart served us some breakfast and Uncle John was deep in thought. Strumming it for the second time much lower this time, Uncle John recalls the events of 1957 as a young man of eight years when he was visiting Rodeport Eye Hospital in South Africa, this is where he learnt his first instrument being the Pennywhistle and met veteran Johannes "Spokes" Mashiyane who is regarded as one of the greatest pennywhistle artists who graced the South African kwela music scene from the 1950s to the 1970s.


During this time he was living with his grandparents in South Rhodesia where he did his studies. At the age of ten he started playing the guitar and was regarded as the youngest guitarist player at Bulawayo. “My first guitar that I personally owned, I made it at a carpentry shop at a cultural centre in MacDonald between 1961 and 1962. It used to be displayed there after they turned the place into a museum. It was just a simple Jazz acoustic guitar,” he recalls.


According to Uncle John Selolwane, he then met up with a recording artist, Naison Seckiey from northern Harare and joined African Jazz Giants. This was at a more critical time when the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation broke, he was then engaged by Kenneth Kaunda by virtue of being his friend and having lived under one roof for some time. He joined TP OK Jazz band under the direction of François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, a major figure in twentieth century Congolese music, and African music in general. He is widely referred to as Franco Luambo or, simply, Franco De Mi Amor. They frequently played at Valley Hotel in the Township of Bulawayo, situated in Mzilikazi. 


In the year 1963, he was tasked together with the band to play at political campaigns and meetings. As he recalls from the back of his strumming melodies, they performed from Livingstone to Nyasaland. In between playing at the campaigns, they enjoyed playing at different night clubs across the continent.


His eye sight deteriorated and he had to leave school in Bulawayo, he then focused on music as a profession. “You know Dave with music you don’t have to see, you have to feel. It is not the eyes that you need much”, he said. He bought his first guitar, a German made Hofner Electric guitar. One of his guitars was stolen in a break in after a car accident and it was a Kay, made in England.


He currently has in his collection about nine top class guitars at his home in Broadhurst including amongst other brands the Ebeneezer guitars and The Fender Mustang among other brands. He also owns special made Sadowsky Guitars Limited, an American high-end guitar, manufacturer in Long Island City, New York. He also owns a D'addario and a Yamaha which he used to endorse. He also has a saxophone which he can play pretty well among his instruments.


He played an instrumental part when the True Tones band was formed around 1970. They managed to break the ice performing in white dominated five star hotels but he recalls they used the back door. This is where Uncle John Selolwane met renowned names in the music circles such as Petula Clark, an English singer, actress and composer whose career has spanned seven decades. He also met Joane Palomo, a classical singer and performed together.


In 1981 he joined the group African Jazz where he played Bunny Machabane, Khipi Mooketsi, Danny Mpale, The late Thandi Klassen, Busi Mhlongo, Ausi Maggie Thipe, Ben Masinga and Gil Mathews who is now based in Sweden.  Uncle John Selolwane will be turning 72 years this year and he confessed that he has no solo project under his belt. But despite the age, this is something that he is looking forward to working on. This is the man who produced Mama Africa, the late Miriam Makeba.

 

Selolwane with Bra Hugh Masekela wrote the Film Sarafina. “I made Masekela what he is when he came to Africa, he couldn’t go to South Africa but I was”, he said. He also played with Soul Brothers, Sipho Gumede and Buddy Gay from Chicago.  He recalls that his role models were the Dambe Brothers; these are the guys that made him. He started with their school choir and grew close with Amos Dambe who became the first Motswana Ambassador to United States. He says when he finally came to Botswana he found artists like Bra Zakes Ngwaze and formed the group Golden Rhythm Crooners with people like Champion Banda and Dorothy Masuka. 


Uncle John Selolwane has travelled the world but deep down he is a very disappointed man. He feels the same industry that he crafted has rejected him; they have failed to honour and recognise him. He is currently battling with his sight and rarely does public performances. With his achievements to date Uncle John Selolwane deserves a Naledi Ya Sechaba award. “Thanks to my wife, I don’t know where I will be right now”, he closed with a heart breaking statement before he offered us a cup of coffee and sandwiches.

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WeekendLife

Celebrities serving hot looks on Instagram

25th January 2021
CELEBRITIES SERVING HOT LOOKS ON INSTAGRAM

Wherever public figures go, their followers expect class, couture and elegance. It is of course expected if you are a public figure.

It looks like a stress-free job with free-passes to top red carpet events, behind-the-scenes snaps and exclusive interviews with lifestyle journalists, popping champagne and cashing coin from appearance fees but it is a whole struggle.

One ought to look the part every time, or else fashion police will be dragging them on social media. Talking about being dragged and humiliated on social media for an unflattering outfit, TV personality and socialite Sadi Dikgaka was at one point publicly trolled for appearing on TV wearing an unflattering pink jumpsuit.

One wardrobe malfunction cannot deem Sadi tacky- not by a long shot. She was just unfortunate that day that she picked the wrong piece, but she has constantly served her followers on Instagram the best from her closet.

Now that she is a brand ambassador for Options Botswana, her style includes romantic dresses with detailed sleeves from Options, making her serve a million dollar style. She says she lives for drama! Some of her sizzling designs are from Versatile Creations, and I would love to believe these are local fashion designers.

Prominent corporate MC, voice over artist, radio journalist and an aspiring farmer, Oratile Kefitlhile is proving that there is more to her. She has killer taste in clothes, and she has proven to be an unstoppable force in the fashion world and her Instagram followers can attest to that. In fact, they just like her stunning looks.

Just like Sadi Dikgaka working with Options Botswana, she earned herself a worthwhile contract with Standard Chartered Bank as their social media influencer, pushing their SC Mobile App. She has continued to serve her impeccable style on Instagram with most of her designs from Dihdah BW. Dihdah BW are a young couple dedicated to change the fashion landscape in the country, and they are effortlessly doing the things.

Just this week, she broke down Instagram with spunky looks and super glam picks from Every Day BW. If there is anyone in the celebrity world defining feminism, she can be the only pick, well at least from Weekend Life.

After keeping his followers anxious about his surprise, radio and TV personality who is also a brand ambassador for Durex, Loungo Pitse’s fashion sense cannot be ignored. He is always serving bomb looks, whether he is wearing his designer suits or just a casual wear being out for tea or having an informal meeting just somewhere around the capital city.

On his birthday early this year, Pitse’s suit from Gudah Designs looked classic, elegant and bold. His Instagram followers be drooling over his fashion choices and eager to know where he gets her stuff. If he is not wearing Gudah Designs, he checks on Black Thrash designers or Elite Gentleman as well as Justice Maverick Hubane for footwear to match his extravagant designer outfits.

Digital content creator, blogger and fashion stylist, Tumie Nthutang doesn’t only know how to dress celebrities by the book, she always turns on the heat on her Gram page. Her followers would want to get their hands on her looks every single time, and Weekend Life did already.

Her latest offering on Instagram was from her wardrobe but she managed to put together everything, leaving a golden touch to her followers. Of course she loves toying with colourful prints and playful pieces together with chunky earrings and hairpieces from The Makeover Place.

She attended Gaona Dintwe’s thanksgiving dinner with a bubbly golden dress that covered every vibe at the event that was exclusive to certain A-listers. The girls gathered together to reflect on the devastating 2020.

Kagiso Sento might have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, but this Shell Botswana and Renne Make Up ambassador always keeps her outfits effortlessly cool. To be honest, she could wear a paper bag and her followers would probably like it.

She served a hot yellow look with an African-print dress from Faddi Official just recently, and Weekend Life couldn’t ignore the navy-blue dress with detailed sleeves she wore last year. A black and white blazer from KLS Collections also was never to be ignored.

Award-winning songstress and radio host Samantha Mogwe’s fashion taste is one of a kind, and her Instagram account details her style looks from head to toe. Knowing pretty well how to serve themed-outfits, Mogwe would blow her followers away and she never cease to amaze Weekend Life.

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WeekendLife

Are men intimidated by women in leadership roles?

25th January 2021
men-intimidated-by-women-in-roles-of-leadership

Gone are the days when a woman’s capability was limited to the kitchen walls and being house wives. The narration has changed over the years and women have made their voices heard, taking up space in all spheres of influence.

Today women can serve as Presidents as Members of Parliament as well as Chief Executive Officers. Offices which were only dominated or deemed fit for men. Whether or not women who hold powerful position are a threat to men, no one can say for sure but there are a handful of men who can’t stand a woman’s tenacity, zeal and power. So much so that they end up trying by all means to pull them down.

While that is the case with some men, some find powerful women smart and mostly attracted to them. While some men may find it a bitter pill to swallow that their women bring home the bread, there are a few rare bred men who go over and beyond for women in powerful positions, helping them in any way they can.

In a study led by Ekaterina Netchaeva, Ph.D., at Bocconi University in Italy, Netchaeva concluded that from an unjustified manhood theory, that when a woman occupies a superior organizational role, men in subordinate positions experience it as a threat, which leads them to behave more assertively towards her and advocate for themselves.

Status is not the only thing that make men feel threatened and inferior; gender and status kills their manhood. This also because they prefer to be pushy in the work place. “Clearly, this is problematic for the many talented, determined women trying to break through the glass ceiling — or simply earn a living,” said the study.

In an interview with WeekendPostsome women have admitted to have experienced being pulled down by men. Makgato Malesu is one of the most powerful women, who said that at some point men questioned how she made it to the top. But that did not stop her from soaring. Today she serves in the highest position in international community.

Being a leading Creative Entrepreneur, Masego Manyaapelo said she had experienced intimidations by men who were her clients. Which she said it was a bizarre combination of sexism and chauvinism.

“More women are holding positions of power and influence in the workspace. This is something that has become the new norm. Men are finding it exceptionally difficult to accept the reality that women are just as competent and sometimes even more than they are. Women climb the corporate ladder faster because they have a lot more to prove and a lot more to lose than their counterparts. For this reason, men are intimidated by the ‘new normal’ in the workplace,” Manyaapelo said.

While some men have evolved with time and are now at ease with the dynamics about women in leadership some men have come to esteem women who hold strong positions. Currently leading as Communications Manager at MassMart, a holding company for trading brands like Game Stores, Builders World, Jumbo, Makro, Cambridge and many more, Tinabo Majaye highlighted that she had never been intimidated by her male counterparts.

“As a young hardworking and ambitious woman who was born and raised in Botswana but working in South Africa’s highly competitive corporate world, gender based power imbalances in the work place have never been an issue for me. I personally have never had judgement in my areas of expertise, questioned nor have I ever had to provide more evidence of my competence than my male counterparts,” she said.

“This is largely attributable to having worked with modern, liberal and progressive men who believe in the advancement of women in the workplace based on their credentials, capabilities and work ethic.” Senior Human Resource Manager at De Beers Matlhogonolo Mponang, has served in different leadership roles which she has executed with utmost excellence and without batting an eye. Mponang begs to differ that men are intimidated by women in powerful positions.

“I think it is unfair to single out men within a general population of varied people. I think I have made people uncomfortable, not because they were male and I was female but simply because I have such a strong personality and I have never had a problem with speaking truth to power, as long as I believed the truth served a greater good and represented my values. As for intimidation. I think people in general are intimidated but anything different from them- especially if the person in question is generally not comfortable with change,” she said.

“I have definitely at some points in my professional life felt that there were waves of subjugation but it was not from any one demographic and it wasn’t always from my superiors. Being radical and transformational means that you will sometimes meet with violent or non-violent opposition. It is not so much a construct of gender or more specifically about men being intimidated by women. It is a human and universal reaction to anything that challenges the status quo.”

MEN’S OPINIONS ABOUT POWERFUL WOMEN

“Truth is women in leadership positions or even those who are just doing well for themselves intimidate men. We say it’s not so and we want our women to do great things but one thing that shows the intimidation is how men fear approaching such women to ask them out. Men question their abilities when they see such, if they are their types, if they can maintain them and if her independence won’t degrade their masculinity,” Joseph Pharatlhatlhe said, a teacher by Profession.

“I don’t know the statistics but I’m pretty sure a good number of women in leadership stay single for a long time lest some male superior to them comes into the picture or the lady herself brings herself down to point of asking a man out or even dating younger men. Ladies most of the time are like slay queens, they are very choosy and when they let you down they hurt your ego big time because it would have taken a lot for you to approach.”

Transformational Speaker, Uyapoh Letus also attested to the fact that some men find it hard to stand a woman who is powerful and have her game together. “It is really about cultural background and our upbringing. In our society almost every person grew up knowing that men kind of hold the high position. Men are considered most powerful and that he comes first. Everyone grows up in this believe. As we grow in this cooperate spaces. We take these believes to our work place,” he said.

“It is so difficult for some men accept having a lady leading them in an organisation. They find it very difficult to take instruction from them. They also find it difficult to believe that a woman is leading them.  Lawrence Ookeditse an independent researcher and Convener of the Botswana Jobs Summit, also a former Director of Youth/Policy Specialist for the Government of Botswana in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development when quizzed said, it is an issue of power itself.

“The power dynamics have been shaped in a very realistic, survival and self-preservation orientated. Meaning everyone who wants power, they go out for the kill because they also want to survive. It is about being in the position to take over. The problem is power itself, because power is public good. I don’t think it is a case of men intimidated by women particularly. Men are also intimidated by other men. Human beings are naturally self-interested,” he said.

“Women who hold powerful positions usually perform well. That I think we could look into a comprehensive study. The key thing also is we must create space for fairness, competitiveness that it should not matter whether you are a men or a woman.

It should be about merit and it should ensure that artificial barriers are removed for women to be able to participate to reach their full potential. The problem is there are often barriers for entry for women. That limit them from participating like men. The system has been rigged and the system needs to be fixed.”

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WeekendLife

Why men don’t pardon cheating partners

18th January 2021
Cheating-marriage

It goes without saying that men and women handle pain differently. Especially emotional pain. Men tend to be more emotionally immature compared to women when it comes to matters of the heart.

It is for this reason that men do not handle break ups or cheating as well as their counterparts. Where women have been groomed from a young age to express their emotions men have been told to “suck it up and be a man”. This may be one of the reasons why men are unable to express their emotions. It’s therefore that it can be a tad bit surprising that men cheat the most but are the weakest to deal when cheated on.

Research has proven that men find it difficult to digest being cheated on. British Psychotherapist, Philip Hodson opines that men find it hard to forgive cheating because it affects their masculinity, and to them, it might signal the end of the relationship.

“Men can forgive themselves for their indiscretions, but they find it much harder to forgive their partners for the same. For a betrayed woman, an affair by a man is an offence against her dignity, but for a betrayed man, a woman’s infidelity is an offence against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity,” said Hodson.

WeekendLife also interviewed a few gentlemen on their honest feeling about being cheated and if they find it hard to forgive their partners after cheating.  Tinashe Mangiroza said, “From the beginning, men are designed with the potential to have and to reproduce with many spouses. Women on the other hand are more or less designed to focus on one man. Along with this natural design, women have stronger pain tolerance. Yes women feel pain when cheated on, but their tolerance is much higher than that of a man (in view of what I said above).”

“And men on the other hand have a low emotional pain tolerance, hence the higher suicide and murder rates among men. Then remember there’s also the ego element which men have. So when you combine a big ego, low pain tolerance and other things such as selfishness and competing with other men, it almost ends a man’s self-worth when a woman he loves decides to sleep with another man.”

He admits to have been cheated on before which he said it took away his self-esteem and he had to sleep around as a way of easing the pain whilst waiting to heal. Another gentleman who was also cheated at some point, Monwabisi Ndumiso Mgenge, highlighted that when a woman cheated on him it becomes very difficult for him to take her back because loyalty is everything to him.

“This is because most of the times relationship involves sex. You see the person naked you enjoy that, you don’t want anybody having what you have. You are emotionally invested and have imagined the future many times and this is why some get violent cause its trauma really.”

Psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye said, “when it comes to marriage, men and women see things differently. He pointed out that a man tends to see the woman as possession, and so, the moment somebody else tries to cross the boundary and interferes with his property, there is bound to be serious problem.”

“So, it is not because women don’t care or they forgive so easily, but the circumstances don’t favour them as they favour men. If women were in a dominant position, they easily would have driven the man away. So, the moment a female has committed herself to marriage, for her to voluntarily and openly get out of it becomes a kind of stigma, and women cannot handle stigma, particularly where children are involved. Mothers would not want to walk away, unless it’s beyond their powers, thus they would rather endure.”

Thabiso Cavin Bogopa, an Empowerment Expert also shared with WeekendLife that men are wired different from women hence their response to cheating won’t be the same. “What may prove to be a difficulty in men forgiving cheating is that, generally speaking men sleep with who they can, women sleep with who they want, so the overarching thing becomes she cheated with her desire, the person she is actually attracted to and the cheated man struggles with that truth, as he realizes that sex for him is opportunity based, while for his counterpart is a deliberate and conscious choice.

This to a certain extent is what forms the challenge for men,” he explained. “Cheating devalues an individual both the cheater and cheated on, but more profoundly manifest in the cheated as they start to decrease in their self-esteem, losing their regard for themselves as they are undermined they may begin to try to address this trauma in multiple ways but more commonly through being exactly what they detest because they are stuck in the experience, they therefore cheat and become messed up.”

“No one gets away with cheating even if you never get caught, you become depleted as a person by the lies, trickery and illicit emotional trade. But if we may, the choice to forgive a cheating partner is a personal choice that goes both ways.”

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