Who is Zakes Mda really? And how did he achieve recognition in so many creative spheres? Sometimes There Is a Void, a disarmingly candid account of the life of Zakes Mda, provides us with some answers.
In this memoir, Zakes weaves together past and present to give an intensely personal story of his development in life, as an artist, musician, film maker and beekeeper, and the events and people who shaped him. Forced to follow his father into exile in Lesotho at fourteen, Zakes becomes an exponent of fast living, frequenting shebeens to escape the confines of parental discipline. He involves himself in politics during his exile, and we see the ANC and PAC as they grow. We also witness the development of his musical and artistic talents from an early age, a little ahead of his literary gifts. Zakes eventually obtains two master’s degrees from Ohio University and a PhD from UCT, and writes his first novel in 1993. Based in Athens, Ohio, he works as a professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.
His contribution to South Africa’s social and cultural advancement remains undiminished, both in his humanitarian efforts and his active involvement in the development of indigenous theatre through his work with local playwrights.