A Native of Nowhere: The Life of Nat Nakasa tells the story of how a quiet, serious African boy growing up in the sleepy coastal city of Durban in the 194s became part of the generation of outspoken black South African journalists in the 195s and 196s who challenged state-sponsored segregation in that way that only writers can, simply by keeping a detailed record of its existence. In doing so, this story provides an alternative way of thinking about early resistance to apartheid, loosing it from the bonds of the organised opposition movement. For a man like Nat, freedom was not the end point of a long struggle arching toward justice. Rather it was something you took for yourself, day in and day out – one conversation, one interview, one multiracial party at a time. Born Nathaniel Ndazana Nakasa on May 12, 1937 like many South Africans of his generation, leaving his homeland was not simply a matter of deciding to go. It was also a matter of deciding never to come back. Not yet 3 years old, Nat had to look into his future and decide that being legally barred from his homeland was a price worth paying to see the world beyond its borders. This book tells the story of that short life. In doing so, it seeks in part to answer the troubling question of how Nat found himself in that New York City window in July 1965, desperate to the point of no return. But life, like history, cannot be read backwards, and so any biography of Nat Nakasa must begin with the acknowledgement that he was no simple martyr, no fallen hero of the anti-apartheid cause, but rather an ambitious, talented and flawed man whose life had the cold fortune of colliding with one of the most racially repressive regimes in the modern world. Attempts to bring Nakasa’s body home bore no fruit, and he was buried at the Ferncliff cemetery in upstate New York. A headstone placed by the Nieman Foundation 3 years later simply reads: Nathaniel Nakasa May 12 1937 – July 14 1965. Journalist, Nieman Fellow, South African. 138 (the tombstone number). Many await the repatriation of Nat Nakasa’s body to South African.
A Native of Nowhere: A Biography of Nat Nakasa
A Native of Nowhere: The Life of Nat Nakasa tells the story of how a quiet, serious African boy growing up in the sleepy coastal city of Durban in the 194s became part of the generation of outspoken black South African journalists in the 195s and 196s.