Coming Home – Nat Nakasa

Ndazana Nathaniel Nakasa
Ndazana Nathaniel Nakasa

Last Tuesday saw the remains of late journalist, Ndazana Nathaniel Nakasa, brought home to South Africa. Nakasa, popularly known as ‘Nat’ was one of South Africa’s most promising journalists at the time that he went into exile in 1964. Having moved to Johannesburg to work as a journalist for the Post, Nat later found work at Drum Magazine, where he eventually became Assistant Editor. It was through his connections at Drum that Nat applied for and was later granted a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. And it was here that his troubles began.

Nat was refused a passport by the South African government, supposedly for expressing his opposition to the Apartheid government in his writings. As a result Nat traveled on an exit permit, which did not allow re-entry into South Africa. Having left his family behind, Nat found little solace in America, and instead was confronted again by racism, albeit of a more subtle nature.

Ndazana Nathaniel Nakasa ended his life on the 14th July 1965 in New York, at the age of 28. At the time attempts to bring his body back to South Africa bore no fruit, and he was buried at the Ferncliff cemetery in upstate New York. Nearly 50 years later Nat’s remains have come home, and a memorial service and funeral are planned for September 13th at Hero’s Acre in Chesterville, Durban.

It is an indictment on the Apartheid government that Nat’s story is such a short one. We pay honour to one of our fallen brothers, and send our condolences to his friends and family for this great tragedy.

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