Nathaniel Nakasa, the journalist as autobiographer : a crisis of identity.
Singh, Habimun Bharath.
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Nathaniel Ndazana Nakasa [1937 - 1965] was a South African journalist who reported for llanga Lase [Natal] in 1956 and 1957, for Drum magazine from 1958 to 1964 and wrote a column for the Saturday edition of the Rand Daily Mail in I9B4. He also founded the literary journal The Classic in 1963. This essay is the first extended treatment of Nakasa's writing, and views his journalism as part of his own 'autobiography1. As such, his writing reflects his crisis of identity, which resulted from his endeavour to sustain his vision of a broad South African humanism in the face of the apartheid policies of the Government in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nakasa's death by suicide in New York in 1965 signalled the tragic end of his search for equality and justice. Nakasa had been labelled 'the black face behind the white mask' and is criticised, particularly by adherents of Black Consciousness, for his evident faith in the tenets of liberalism. This essay attempts to locate Nakasa in the context of opposition by those of humanist inclinations to apartheid in the fifties and sixties and to view sympathetically his commitment to justice and compassion : values which remain relevant and valid in our search for a better society in South Africa. The investigation proceeds by an analysis of his journalism as both the record of the times and, more subjectively, the projection and expression of his own crisis-ridden personality. An introduction is followed by two sections on his writing, the first dealing with his articles on Drum, the second with his sketches on the Rand Daily Mail. A brief conclusion argues for the continuing interest of Nakasa's writing.