Zakes Mda is the pen name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, a novelist, poet and playwright. Although he spent his early childhood in Soweto (where he knew political figures such as Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela) he had to finish his education in Lesotho where his father went into exile since 1963. This change of setting also meant a change of language for Mda: from isiXhosa to Sesotho. Consequently Mda preferred to write his first plays in English. His first play, We Shall Sing for the Fatherland, won the first Amstel Playwright of the Year Award in 1978, a feat he repeated the following year. He worked as a bank clerk, a teacher and in marketing before the publication of We Shall Sing for the Fatherland and Other Plays in 1980 enabled him to be admitted to the Ohio University for a three-year Master's degree in theatre. He completed a Masters Degree in Theatre at Ohio University, after which he obtained a Master of Arts Degree in Mass Communication. By 1984 his plays were performed in the USSR, the USA, and Scotland as well as in various parts of southern Africa.Mda then returned to Lesotho, first working with the Lesotho National Broadcasting Corporation Television Project and then as a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lesotho. Between 1985 and 1992 he was director of the Theatre-For-Development Project at the university and founded the Marotholi Travelling Theatre. Together with his students he travelled to villages in remote mountain regions working with local people in creating theatre around their everyday concerns. This work of writing theatre "from the inside" was the theme of his doctoral thesis, the Ph.D degree being conferred on him by the University of Cape Town in 1989. In the early nineties Mda spent much of his time overseas, he was writer-in-residence at the University of Durham (1991), research fellow at Yale University. He returned for one year to South Africa as Visiting Professor at the School of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is presently Professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.