The hero of Zakes Mda's beloved Ways of Dying, Toloki, sets down with a family in Middle America and uncovers the story of the runaway slaves who were their ancestors
Like its affable narrator, Cion leisurely ambles from one episode to the next. As the various strands of the novel begin to coalesce, however, it becomes clearer that, in his capacity as a professional healer, Toloki has performed an important function for the Quigley family and, by extension, the larger society that continues to neglect the tangled web of its history. The sensibility through which Toloki refracts this story embodies the spirit of ubuntuthe term so frequently invoked by Archbishop Tutu and others during South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation hearings to denote "the universal bond of sharing that connected all humanity." In the end, Cion strongly suggests that ubuntu may well offer a way for America to confront the ghosts of its racial past.