Features

Earning a living from the dead

ALVIN CHIINGA
Lusaka

IT’S rare that people mention the word embalmer in their everyday vocabulary. The only time that they make reference to the word is when they have a funeral.

This may imply that the job of an embalmer is not all that important as long as people live.
In many instances talk of an embalmer, let alone mortuary, stirs fear and invokes some myths.
One of the myths questions the state of mind of those who work as embalmers in mortuaries.
Some people say embalmers are always ready to finish off dead people who would rise from the dead while in the morgue.
But 39-year-old Dulani Zulu, of Kamanga Township in Lusaka, who is employed as an embalmer at Maina Soko Military Hospital, says this is far from the truth.
“Myths, misconceptions and innuendos will be peddled about you but you just have to be thick-skinned and stay focused,” he says.
Dulani says he has never experienced an incident where someone woke up from the dead before they could be embalmed.
He started off as a mortuary attendant in 2002 and later he upgraded to what he is now.
“I found the job interesting because of the embalming aspect of it. So I vowed to become a professional embalmer,” the soft-spoken embalmer says.
Before taking up the job as an embalmer, Dulani had dreamed of being a journalist but things could not work out.
He says he never planned to be a mortician, but some old man he met, who at the time was working at Maina Soko Military Hospital as a mortuary attendant, introduced him to mortuary science.
Dulani says he is respected in his neighbourhood like any other person belonging to the working class.
He has been working as an embalmer for over two decades. He fell in love with the job the first day he participated in a training to embalm a body of a dead person.
“I was excited. And, unlike some people who have nightmares, I didn’t sleep because I was just worried about not having done a proper job,” he says.
His first job was excellent and his supervisor was impressed. CLICK TO READ MORE 


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