From Community MemoryRonnie Govender (1934) was born in Cato Manor, one of 10 siblings. Through oral storytelling by his mother and grandmother during childhood days, he became interested in theatre after seeing Andre Huguenet's performance in Oedipus Rex while he was still at school. He was educated at Springfield Teachers' Training College and worked as a teacher, as a part-time journalist (he was sports editor for The Leader) and for the South African Breweries. He was involved in the South African Sports Council (SACOS), and later in the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW).
He has strong feelings about this community, as is evident in most of his 13 plays and his collection of stories, At the Edge and Other Cato Manor Stories, for which he received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. During his eleven year teaching career, Govender wrote and directed his first play, Beyond Cavalry. As a protest against bourgeois theatre he formed the Shah Theatre Academy to foster indigenous theatre. The Lahnee’s Pleasure, one of South Africa’s longest running plays, and At the Edge, both received critical and commercial acclaim all over the world. His most well known play, At the Edge, won Vita nominations for Best South African playwright and Best Actor.
In 1991 Govender was appointed Marketing Manager of the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, and two years later appointed director of Durban's Playhouse Theatre. In 2000, Ronnie Govender was awarded a Medal by the English Academy of South Africa for his contribution to English literature. Govender published Song of the Atman, part of which is set in Cato Manor, in 2006 and In the Manure, a book of personal experiences and reflections, in 2008.