After 49 years on foreign soil, prominent South African writer Nat Nakasa has finally returned home.
Nakasa, who left the country in 1964 on a oneway exit permit issued by the former apartheid government, Welcome home
returned to a democratic South Africa to be reburied in his hometown of Chesterville in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
In 1965, at the age of 28, Nakasa plunged from the seventh floor of a high-rise building near Central Park in New York. He was buried at the Ferncliff cemetery.
A former Drum and Rand Daily Mail journalist, he left for the US after being awarded the Nieman Fellowship to study journalism at Harvard .
Nakasa had a great love for education and was given the title of “citizen of nowhere” Welcome home
after he was forced to relinquish his identity as a South African by the former regime.
Speaking at Nakasa’s reburial, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the repatriation
and reburial of Nakasa was a spiritually and culturally signifi cant occasion because
it marked the end of a tragic chapter in the family and nation’s history.
“In its own way, it is a momentous occasion, [like] the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, the unbanning of the liberation movement and the return of exiles.
It is an act of healing that signifi es the dawn of a bright new day,” Minister Mthethwa said.
Nakasa’s writings were “preoccupied with exposing the absurdity of the apartheid system and, at the same time, articulating the vision of a new society”, he added.
“Nakasa was the youngest and perhaps the last of the Drum writers who ultimately ended up in exile in 1964 following the departure of Bloke Modisane,
Lewis Nkosi, Arthur Maimane, Bessie Head, Alex La Guma, and Dennis Brutus to name a few.
They were part of an exodus of creative intellectuals before them that defi ed the system by choosing exile… ,” he said.
Describing Nakasa as a nation builder and an agent of social cohesion long before these
became buzzwords, the Minister said he was happy to have Nakasa back home.
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