The remains of renowned anti-apartheid journalist, Nat Nakasa, who died in exile in New York more than five decades ago, will be reburied at his place of birth in Chesterville, Durban, in September, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said yesterday.
Speaking in Durban on the reburial arrangements, Mthethwa said the department was finalising plans for the smooth repatriation of the writer’s remains.
“He will be buried on September 13th at Heroes’ Acre in Chesterville. As a department we are doing everything in our power to ensure that the remains arrive in South Africa in August,” he said.
Nakasa, whose work and life titled A Native of Nowhere is currently being exhibited at the Old Court House Museum in Durban, left South Africa for exile in the US in 1964. He left on an exit permit after the apartheid government had refused to give him a passport to enable him to go to Harvard University where he had been awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism.
He died a year later at the age of 28 after falling from a building in New York in an alleged suicide.
“He was part of the generation of iconic writers such as Henry Nxumalo, Can Themba, Casey Motsisi and others who were the pioneers of so-called ‘Black journalism’ in South Africa. They were the advocates of nation building and social cohesion who put their lives at risk chronicling authentic stories of their people,” Mthethwa said.
The return of his remains, Mthethwa said, was an opportunity to educate South Africans about the country’s painful past. A number of initiatives celebrating Nakasa’s life would be launched in the lead up to his reburial.
“The ideals that he espoused are the same ideals that South Africa is striving to achieve today. His work remains relevant in the present day society,” Mthethwa said.
Nakasa’s sister, Gladys Maphumulo, said the return of his remains was a fitting climax to a painful journey.
“We have been waiting for this for over 50 years and as a family we are extremely relieved that our valued family member will finally return.”