'Can't go home': South African artist reveals painful past


LGBTQI South African artist Nakhane has spoken to SBS News about the highs and lows of his career.

South African artist Nakhane's lyrics are emotionally charged and raw - for good reason.

The 30-year-old musician and actor was born in a small town in South Africa, and grew up in a deeply religious community.

His upbringing ignited his passion for music and his flair for performance.

But five years ago, Nakhane publicly declared his homosexuality and made the decision to renounce his Christian faith.

Nakhane talks to SBS News.
Nakhane talks to SBS News.
SBS News

This month, he released his second album, 'You Will Not Die', a startling document of the person he was, and the person he is now.

He said it took years of hiding who he was before he felt content with his sexuality.

"I grew up in a predominantly Christian household, so a lot of who I naturally am was not welcome. And so I had to ween myself off that household," he told SBS News on Thursday.

"I love my family and they're very supportive. It wasn't necessarily my family against who I was, but the church that I went to. So when I broke away from the church and started writing the second album, a lot of that breaking away formed the foundation of what the album became, and the initial songs were quite angry."

A Nakhane video clip.
A Nakhane video clip.

Nakhane recently played the lead role in the Oscar-nominated film, 'The Wound', a love story which tells the story of a young man's self-discovery.

The film is set in and around a traditional initiation camp, where he is exposed to homophobia.

Despite its success, it caused controversy after its release and led to protests in South Africa.

The artist said he still receives hate mail.

"A lot of death threats, thousands. I'm still not sure I can go home at this point in time to my province. I can go back to South Africa, but I'm not quite sure I can go home."

Nakhane now resides in London. He has plans to return home, but not just yet. 

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch