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South African novelist, playwright, poet, painter, sculptor, film producer, and academic, was born on 6 October 1948 in Sterkspruit in the Herschel District of the Eastern Cape, near the border with Lesotho. His father Ashby Peter Solomzi Mda was a schoolteacher, later an attorney, and a founder of the African National Congress Youth League and of the Pan-African Congress; his mother Rose Nompumelelo Mda was a nurse. When Mda was an infant, his parents moved with him to Orlando East and then to Dobsonville in Soweto, where his father taught school.

Mda claims that he became a juvenile delinquent and joined street gangs during his time in Soweto while his father was studying law In hopes of keeping him out of trouble his parents sent him as a teenager to live with his grandparents in Sterkspruit soon after his father joined him to establish a law practice there His father ...