Zakes Mofokeng

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Zakes Mofokeng (1941-2018) is a South African playwright actor‚ musician and poet.


He started his theatrical career as an actor with Union Artists and later became a member of the Phoenix Players in Johannesburg. He was assistant manager of The Voice and as an arts practitioner‚ a leading participant in the the cultural boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa. He was held under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act in that capacity in June 1978. He became involved in labour unions after the Wiehahn Commission recommended that black trade unions be legalised in 1979.

In the early 1980s he went into voluntary exile in Switzerland, and while there acted as the PAC's labour representative.

He returned to the country in later years, and died at an old age home in Yeoville‚ Johannesburg‚ on Monday September 17, 2018, having suffered from Parkinson's disease for a number of years.

He had three sons, Mpho‚ Tokelo and Tokollo - and a stepdaughter‚ Hope.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

His first play was The Train (1974), written with Corney Mabaso. Other plays include A New Song, Like Music: a musical drama.

His autobiographical play Never Again was staged at the Teatro Dallas International Festival in the USA in 1995.

He also wrote a television documentary‚ Monna Wa Minno‚ about the late Michael Masote‚ who started the first black youth orchestra in South Africa. The documentary was shown on SABC2 in 2012.


Phoenix Players theatre programme.

New York Times, 3 August 1977.

The Citizen, 16 June 1978.

Material held by NELM.

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