Ms Nokubonga Komako’s Honours dissertation examined the phenomenon of “Black Tax” and whether it is a responsibility or a burden. 

The Media and Cultural Studies graduate said that her interest in this topic stemmed from personal experience: ‘I realised that I enjoyed taking care of my family even though sometimes it was frustrating financially. I chose this topic because I needed to understand what I was going through and what my brother went through when he started his first job. I wanted to understand if taking care of family was a responsibility or a burden and why it is dominant amongst Black families and to possibly find a solution to end the cycle of Black Tax.’

Her research findings suggest that Black people are born into “Black Tax”. ‘We don’t have a choice. We were not just disadvantaged by apartheid, but our problem stems back to colonisation when our land was taken away from us,’ she said. 

Reflecting on the research process, Komako said: ‘Interviewing different people from different backgrounds and hearing their opinions made me appreciate my brother Ayanda even more. He sacrificed a lot to get me through my undergraduate degree. I couldn’t even imagine how hard it must have been not to enjoy your first salary and having to put your sibling through school on an internship salary.’ 

She dedicated her degree to her brother and is also thankful for her family and friends’ support. 

Komako plans to register for a master’s degree and is excited about what the future holds.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal