The South African actor stars in The Wound, a film that mixes an intimate portrayal of a gay relationship with the Xhosas tribe’s initiation rites. It won plenty of awards, but the 30-year-old faced a dark backlash
A few months after the actor, musician and author Nakhane started receiving online death threats, he developed an unorthodox reaction to them. Call it a coping mechanism, but the 30-year-old could not help but assess the linguistic flair of his fellow South Africans. “It was interesting for my own people to describe in great detail how they wanted to kill me,” he says, softly. “But some of the descriptions were so poetic that I was like: ‘Hey, people can write. They can write, eh?’” He lets out a dry chortle, spiked with weariness, and leans in over his post-photoshoot glass of red wine. “It was poetic, but dark.”
He is a long way from home, sitting in a north London bar, but the ripple effects of the acting role that inspired graphic threats against his life still resonate. Nakhane stars in The Wound (Inxeba), a tender and intimate film that weaves one story, of male same-sex desire in rural South Africa, with another, about what happens when urbanised and queer teen Kwanda (played by newcomer Niza Jay Ncoyini) kicks back against ingrained tradition. It is a film so visceral you find yourself clenching your fists and wincing while anticipating the slap of violence during its most tense scenes.