Mazisi Kunene is the much-celebrated author of epics as well as numerous poems, short stories, nursery rhymes and proverbs that amount to a collection of more than 10 000 works. He was born in aMahlongwa in 1930, a small rural village on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Notwithstanding his cultural duties as a young man born into Zulu tradition, his calling as an imbongi was taken very seriously by his father and grandfather who encouraged him to write. Professor Kunene described this ‘calling’ to write as ‘something [that] is not me, it is the power that rides me like a horse’. Kunene lectured widely and was Professor in African Literature at Stanford University and in African Literature and Languages at the University of California, Los Angeles. On his return to South Africa, he was Professor in African Languages at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He went into exile in the 1960s for more than 34 years, during which time he established and managed the African National Congress office in London and later moved to Los Angeles with his family to pursue his academic career.