Former press ombud remembers colleague Nat Nakasa
Joseph Nong Thloloe, is a veteran journalist with over 50 years’ experience in print and broadcast journalism. From 1977-1994 Thloloe was a writer and reporter for publications such as The World, Rand Daily Mail, Golden City Post and Drum magazine, where he worked closely with renowned journalist Nat Nakasa. This week the remains of legendary South African journalist Nat Nakasa were brought to South Africa from the United States. Thloloe was at Nakasa’s welcoming back into the country.
Nakasa had written for Drum Magazine, the Rand Daily Mail and the Golden City Post (now City Press). Nakasa won a fellowship to Harvard University but was refused a passport by the Apartheid government. Instead he took an exit permit, which would not allow him to return to South Africa, and began his life in exile in 1964. He committed suicide in New York over a year later.
How do you feel about Nakasa’s remains being brought back to South Africa?
Yesterday’s event generated a turmoil of emotions for me – joy, sadness and anger.
Joy that Nat’s remains were finally home after decades of efforts.
Angry that South Africa could have treated such a talented young man the way we treated Nat, and sadness that his family and relatives were not meeting Nat in the flesh.
What is it that you will never forget or hold closely about Nakasa’s personality and professionalism? Nat was prophetic in his writing and his lifestyle. He refused to bow to the dictates of the National Party, raising the possibility of a non-racial South Africa, and living in what he called a “fringe society” People of various colours lived and played, an island of non-racialism in the middle of apartheid.
What do you believe is most fundamental to his legacy?
He will always be a symbol of what should never ever happen again in this country.
The apartheid government attempted to curb his freedom of expression, freedom of movement and his freedom of association. We should never allow that to happen in this country.
For journalists, he will always be a reminder that they need to ask the hard questions, and get to the truth, whatever the consequences.
Were there any decisions on Nakasa’s formal burial ceremony date?
His will be buried at the Chesterville Heroes Acre [in KwaZulu Natal] on September 13.