Life on the Fringe: The Early Writings of Lewis Nkosi and Nat Nakasa1

  • R Brown

Abstract

One evening in the late 1950s, Lewis Nkosi and his friend Nat Nakasa were walking through downtown Johannesburg when, as both later recalled, they decided to stop into a whites-only restaurant called The Texan. They ordered their coffees at the bar, knowing that the American man behind the counter expected them to take their cups outside and drink on the pavement. But as he prepared the drinks, they exchanged a quick smile. Then Nkosi gestured to a grinning portrait of Dwight Eisenhower hanging above the bar. “Look at that bum,” he said loudly to Nakasa. “There is something seriously wrong with America’s choice of its heroes.” This caught the ear of the barman and suddenly a debate was raging. As the arguments bounced back and forth, Nakasa and Nkosi slowly drank their coffees. By the time the conversation ended, their mugs were empty and the two men paid and left. “Nobody seemed to remember the colour bar,” Nakasa later recalled slyly (Nakasa, “Johannesburg” 20).
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eISSN: 0376-8902