Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2019 2020
Previous Archive
News Items

News Archive

Nat Nakasa the inspiration behind UFS academic’s PhD thesis
2017-01-09

 Description: 001 Dr Willemien Marais Tags: 001 Dr Willemien Marais

Photo: Supplied

“I’m interested in alternative ways of approaching things, so I wanted to look at how journalism can be used in an unconventional way to contribute to a developing society.”

This is why Dr Willemien Marais, a lecturer in the Department of Communication Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), decided to title her thesis: Nat Nakasa as existential journalist, describing a form of journalism that places emphasis on the individual’s experiences.

“Existentialism is a philosophy that provides scope for an individual approach to life, and I like Nat Nakasa’s writing because of his excellent sense of humour despite his horrific circumstances as a black journalist during apartheid,” she says.

A practical approach to writing

Dr Marais analysed Nat Nakasa’s approach to journalism through articles he wrote in the early 1960s. She searched for relevant themes of existentialist philosophy in Nakasa’s work in order to prove that he could be read as an existential journalist.

She mentions that in terms of contemporary relevance, Nakasa’s approach to journalism suggests that existentialism could provide the journalist with a practical approach to writing, especially for those journalists working in developing societies.

“The relevance of this approach lies in the fact that any society is always between things – the old and the new – which might require the journalist to operate outside the boundaries of conventional journalism.”

This study was qualitative in nature because of the interpretation required. She mentions that it was basically one of many possible interpretations of Nakasa’s work; with this one using existentialism as a lens.

An intellectually stimulating thesis

Dr Marais quotes French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, who said that interpreting someone’s work, especially someone who was no longer alive, was open to “thousands of shimmering, iridescent, relevant meanings”, and her research represents one of these possible meanings of Nakasa’s work as a journalist.

When asked how long she had worked on her thesis, Dr Marais simply answered “too long!” She mentions that her thesis was initially more of an intellectual exercise. Whereas the actual act of writing took about four months, she spent many years thinking about the topic. “Now that all is said and done, I realise I had to grow into the topic. It took me a while to realise that true understanding does not come overnight!”

Dr Marais mentions that other than herself and the work of Nat Nakasa, there were no other roleplayers involved. “For many, many years it was just Nat Nakasa and I. It was frustrating and exhilarating all at the same time.”

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept