On Tuesday the Dube trade port, north of Durban, welcomed the remains of the iconic anti-apartheid journalist Nat Nakasa. The ceremony brought together hundreds of people including media professionals, government officials and dignitaries from both South Africa and the United States.
Speaking to the DAILY VOX Nakasa’s brother Patrick said: “Finally he has come home to us. We have waited almost 50 years for this day. He was taken away from us very young and for many years we did not know what had really happened. Now, our brother can finally rest in peace.”
In a ceremony featuring speeches, song and dance, representatives from the Nakasa family bid a fond farewell to a man they described as fighting apartheid through the ink of his pen.
Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa hailed Nakasa as a beacon of hope during a dark time in South Africa’s history and appealed to journalists and leaders to honour his memory by empowering communities across the country.
Mthethwa said Nakasa was driven by a passion for the written word and a need to tell the stories of the suffering masses during apartheid.
Nakasa, who wrote for Drum, the Rand Daily Mail and the Zulu language Ilanga lase Natal, left the country on an exit permit – in effect a one-way ticket out of the country – after he was awarded a Nieman journalism fellowship at Harvard University.
Nakasa shared his perspectives on race and governance with a diverse audience at the university but found life in the US lonely and suffered from depression. He died at the age of 28 after falling from the seventh floor window of an apartment building, in a suspected suicide.
Nakasa was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in upstate New York, a few feet away from human rights activist Malcolm X. Upon his passing, musical stalwarts such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, and renowned photographer Peter Magubane rallied other exiles to assist in his burial.
Nakasa’s remains will be laid to rest at the “Heroes Acre” near his home in Chesterville on 13 September.
Muhammad Sheik is a journalist, radio producer and broadcaster from Durban. He is currently studying towards a Masters in Public Policy. When his fast-mouth isn’t getting him into trouble, he is often found off the beaten path exploring South Africa, her people and their amazing stories.