Zakes Mda is the pen name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, a novelist, poet and playwright.
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 OZakes Mda is the pen name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda, a novelist, poet and playwright.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 19 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.