Nat Nakasa: My writing. My belonging

By Drum Digital
19 September 2014

Read the winning entry in the Nat Nakasa Essay competition, by Sbongakonke Mbatha.

By Sbongakonke Mbatha                          

There’s one thing I love about writing: the ink runs out, but the idea remains alive – far beyond what the pen can ever write. I write to live in a world where everyone feeds off the same ideal; one of not changing your intention regardless of the situation. One of not compromising your belief even when the necessary means run out. I aspire to be a writer that sticks to her story in all seasons.

Mortal heroes like Nathaniel Nakasa inspire me to be my outmost best. I like how he sought truth and not the idea of it. I’m as old as our democracy. The third generation since Nakasa’s time and the first generation born to enjoy much fought for freedom. I’m living proof of all the good our freedom has brought into many lives since its infancy. I also symbolise where the country is headed. I’m today’s first page of many great stories to be told. Great journalists like Nakasa bravely refused to suffocate under oppression. They fought, not by fist, but with the flair carried by their pen and paper.

I’m a freedom writer. There has never been one like me and there never will be. Robust writers like Nakasa make me understand that I have the opportunity and the responsibility to use my art, to deliver crisp content and be the best storyteller of my generation. I have my own definition of “storytelling”. My active imagination allows me to have my own distinct reception of a person’s experience. John Maxwell once said, “Reflective thinking turns experience into insight”. Nakasa rebelled against conformity. I also aspire to tell my story without conforming to an opportunistic norm that may unceremoniously surround the originality of storytelling, like an irritating pimple on one’s left cheek. Conformity assassinates originality – always.

I believe one of the best stories I will ever tell in this life is the story of me. Failure to do so will give me no right to call myself a writer, a poet or a creative composer. Those three elements define me and healing defines my writing. I’m an aspiring feature journalist and writer that writes for healing. Without naming particular life events that have led me to believing that I’m my own personal best, I find healing in my ink. It brings me joy and fulfilment. Days before his death Nakasa spoke very powerful words to a friend. He said, “I can’t laugh any more and when I can’t laugh I can’t write”. I believe Nakasa and I shared the same sentiments when it comes to writing: writing is an art that comes from within. It feeds off from your reactions, perceptions, intentions, feelings and senses. It is fuelled by passions. It’s a calling. As a journalist I believe   one can never deliver quality content without writing with effort, passion, dedication and joy. These ingredients greatly distinguish the difference between a writer and a highlighter. A writer creates and gives birth to an ideal that is infectious enough to force change while a highlighter shadows what already exists. Pure mediocrity.

I want my writing to weave unity amongst South Africans because I believe we are like the zebra; whether you shoot the white stripe or the black stripe the zebra dies. Nakasa’s existence was a miracle and it shall forever call for celebration every day. In life there is no absolute security, but I believe that writing gives opportunity to change that. Great respect to Nathaniel Ndazana Nakasa, in the end the “Native from Nowhere” finally belongs.

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