Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has described Ndazana Nathaniel Nakasa as a pioneer, whose contribution helped to take South Africa’s struggle for liberation forward.
“He was a great visionary and an ambitious young man. He challenged the superficial nature of the racial divide in South Africa. He espoused the principles and values that undergird our constitutional democracy today,” Minister Mthethwa said.
Speaking at a media briefing in Durban on the reburial of Nakasa, Minister Mthethwa said the wordsmith was the epitome of courage, integrity and social cohesion, who dedicated his writing to bridging the racial divide in South Africa.
Born in Chesterville in 1937, he worked for Ilanga laseNatal before joining Drum Magazine in Johannesburg. He also worked for the Golden City Post and was the first black journalist to work at the Rand Daily Mail, where he provided a black perspective for the newspaper’s predominantly white readership.
He was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in 1964 to study journalism at Harvard College in the USA. However, the apartheid government rejected his application for a passport. As a result, he was forced to leave South Africa on an exit permit, which meant that he could not come back home.
Nakasa soon found that racism existed in America as well, albeit more subtle. He did not like New York and soon moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he spent his time at Harvard steeped in the sombre business of education.
His death by suicide at the age of 28 was an apartheid tragedy, and a tragedy of exile. He wrote articles for several newspapers after leaving Harvard, appeared in the television film The Fruit of Fear and was planning to write a biography of Miriam Makeba. But two days before his death, he told a friend: “I can’t laugh anymore and when I can’t laugh, I can’t write.”
As it was not possible to bring his body home, he was buried at the Ferncliff cemetery in upstate New York.
Nakasa’s remains will be reburied at his place of birth in Chesterville, at the Heroes’ Acre in Durban, where he spent his childhood.
This is after the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Westchester, had granted permission to exhume and repatriate Nakasa’s mortal remains.
Source : SAnews.gov.za