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Zakes Mda is the pen-name of Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda. He is a South African, Lesotho and Appalachian American-African writer, painter, and music composer. He holds an MFA (Theater) and an MA (Telecommunications) from Ohio University, and a PhD from the University of Cape Town.

He has published 22 books, ten of which are novels and the rest collections of plays, poetry and a monograph on the theory and practice of theater-for-development. His novel Cion, set in southeast Ohio, was nominated for the NAACP Image Award. His memoir titled Sometimes there is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider was published by Farrar Straus and Giroux and was the New York Times Notable Book for 2012.

He commutes between the U.S.A. and South Africa, where he is Professor Emeritus of English at Ohio University and Extraordinary Professor of English at the University of the Western Cape; a beekeeper in the Eastern Cape (running a project he established in 2000 with rural women); and a director of NeoZane, a publishing house and animation film production company, Johannesburg.

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