Author Zakes Mda

By Tsepiso Theko

The story of hearsays told by no one in particular, follows a humorous professional mourner, Toloki. Toloki is homeless, appears slovenly but a very proud man who lives mostly in his head.

 In one funeral, he reunites with his childhood friend from the villages, Noria. As the story unfolds they revisit their childhood while trying to make a living of the situations they are faced with work. Toloki with his odd profession and his friend Noria who has learnt to live with people come together to make sense of their lives. Both broken by their past, they tell the stories of their journeys after leaving the village.

Ways of dying is a mind grabber, it places you inside those stinking shoes of Toloki. I walked with him by foot from the villages through small towns and into the city. I sang next to Jawa as Noria told her story and I felt rejected by Toloki’s father. It is a beautiful story of South African history post-apartheid, compassion and death. It is welcoming from the first sentence and has a beautiful ending.

Zakes Mda has a way of slipping humor in sorrowful times. And making us dance in the end. I laughed  more than i wished to cry.

Everyone who loves stories that are made of many other stories should read this. It’s a story that will stay with you forever.

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