Founder member of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival Zoleka Caroline Helesi, died on Friday December 11 after a long and intense fight with cervical and lung cancer.
In Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying, the author talks of “the nurse” being the last person to see someone before they pass away, their job it is to say how the person died. In MaZo’s case, the nurse was myself and her extraordinary and loving sister, Thembisa.
I can testify that MaZo died in the same way that she lived; with fight and passion, with curiosity, courage, fearlessness, with prayer, concern for family and friends and with determination. She died dramatically and her final hours in this world were like her life, bright and admirable.
I feel like a small part of my soul has died with her and a terrific era at the Baxter Theatre has now ended and I can only hope and pray that the memory of her indomitable spirit will heal all who loved her so very much.
MaZo was a founder member of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival programme at the Baxter, and had performed in a number of Baxter productions, including Karoo Moose, Yael Farber’s Mies Julie and Marc Lottering’s Aunty Merle, It’s a Girl.
And she was responsible for bringing thousands of school children to the Baxter Theatre.
She was a powerful woman who taught me about courage, integrity, about how the spirit can drive and heal, about how to have absolute clarity between right and wrong and most of all, about loyalty,.
Our hearts go out to her son Lazola, her sister Thembisa and her friends and family.
Go well SisMaZo, may your journey now be without pain and with peace, rest in power my sister.