Nat Nakasa’s remains coming home!

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23 Jun 2014

The National Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s Office, and the eThekwini Heritage Department are pleased to announce that the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Westchester, has granted permission for the remains of iconic journalist and writer Nat Nakasa to come home.

The South African government has been involved in the efforts to return Nakasa’s remains to home soil for the past two years. A formal application was issued to the Supreme Court of the State of New York earlier this year. The objective is to rebury the remains in the Heroes’ Acre in Chesterville, Durban-KwaZulu-Natal. Nakasa was a distinguished South African writer and journalist who died in New York in 1965. A delegation will travel to the US in the near future to finalise plans for the reburial.

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, says the Department as the custodians of the nation’s heritage, is proud to be involved in the efforts to rebury Nat Nakasa’s remains on home soil.  “This is part of our intervention strategies to reclaim our history and preserve our heritage. Nakasa believed in a free and democratic society, where one is not judged according to the colour of their skin. The ideals that Nakasa espoused in the 1950s are the same ideals that South Africa is striving to achieve today. His work remains relevant in the present society almost fifty years after his passing,” says Minister Mthethwa.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu says it is a privilege to work with National Government and the eThekwini Municipality to bring back home “one of our formidable sons so that he may take his rightful place among the heroes of our land”.

“In our eyes Nat Nakasa will always be a true South African son who fought fiercely for our democracy. He undertook his challenges with grace, dignity and credibility. It is only fitting that he return to the country of his birth in an effort that is characteristic of his reputation. It is fitting that we bring this hero home as we celebrate our 20 Years of Democracy,” says Premier Mchunu.

Nakasa’s sister and next of kin Gladys Maphumulo-Nakasa says family never knew very much about her brother’s experiences in the US but when he died nearly 50 years ago all they ever wanted was that his remains be brought back home.

“To this day we do not really know what to think about the cause of his death. All he ever wanted was to come back home.  We thank the government and all who are now making it possible to bring back our dear brother back home,” she adds.

Friend and colleague of Nakasa Joe Tholoe, a respected Editor and media icon, says the news of Nat being brought home is very exciting. “He is a symbol what shouldn’t happen in our country where young voices are silenced. His coming home is a vindication of the struggle of many black journalists of his time. It shows that their work was not in vain that this generation recognises their efforts”.

Nathaniel Ndazana Nakasa was born in 1937 in Chesterville, KwaZulu-Natal province. He distinguished himself as a transcendent voice in the world of journalism during the 1950s and early 1960s. He worked for the Zulu newspaper, ILanga Lase Natal in Durban, before joining Drum Magazine in Johannesburg. He was part of the iconic pantheon of Drum journalists, including Henry Nxumalo, Can Themba, Lewis Nkosi, Casey Motsisi, etc. He was the first black columnist in Rand Daily Mail, a white liberal newspaper. In 1963 he founded The Classic, the first black-owned literary journal in South Africa.  Nakasa was granted the prestigious Nieman Fellowship for journalism at Harvard University in the US. The apartheid government denied him a visa and he left South Africa on an exit permit in 1964.

As part of the celebration of Nakasa’s life, an exhibition entitled, “A Native of Nowhere,” was opened at the Old Court Museum in Durban. For more information please visit: http://www.durban.gov.za

For more information please contact:

Ms Lisa Combrinck 0828214886 or email lisac@dac.gov.za

Mr Sandile Memela 0828003750 or email sandilem@dac.gov.za

Mary B. Papayya: Convener:  Nat Nakasa “Bringing Home a Hero” Project 0823794957