A literary reconstruction of mental health as portrayed in Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀'s Stay with me and Redi Tlhabi's Khwezi - the remarkable story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo

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Namibia University of Science and Technology


The purpose of the study is to reconstruct mental health in literary studies or literature. It argues to strengthen, highlight and encourage the representation of mental health in literary works. In so doing, authors of novels, biographies and any other written work are reminded and urged to consider human emotions, feelings and address a wide range of mental health challenges experienced in the world by almost every individual. Being a literary study, the selected texts in their story lines encompass a good embodiment of ranges of emotions and reactions in different settings which reflects a true existence form and lived experiences most people go through in today’s world. The two texts have exemplary and exceptionally addressed the events that are affecting societies today, such as; rape, abandonment, rejection, alienation, marriage and divorce, fertility, injustice treatment, negative effects of cultural/traditional practices versus modern practices, religion, political impartations, beliefs, suicide, degradation, financial difficulties and so many more. With our communities, in the Namibian context, these are the notable afflictions people go through. It is only human to feel stressed, develop anxieties or get depressed when encountered with one of the aforesaid problems. The Trauma and Resilience theories were used in this analysis to provide a perspective and spectrum through which the established conditions could be assessed and understood. Further, with the trauma models, the trauma theory serves and provides great guiding tools in analysing the selected texts for the fulfilment of the study objectives. Mental health is a perennial problem in our societies and its impact manifests through so many dimensions. An attentive and collective response in addressing it and compacting its effect needs to be enforced in different paradigms and disciplines. The study analysed the selected texts to assess how they have delivered and addressed the phenomenon. Stay With Me by Adebayo is a poignant book which richly touched on many elements of life and hardships that people go through such as; deception, faith fear, murder, religion, sickle cell anaemia, death, lust, love, impotence, fertility, tragedy, forgiveness, anger, politics, polygamy and a whole lot of uncertainties. It mirrors the horrors of the life that one could go through and the trajectory to how slowly one problem leads to another. The book has substantially responded to the objectives of the study. It highlighted events which most studies agreed with to be possible causes of mental health issues. Further, the characters portrayed resilience in a very genuine way. It could be traced how they were really affected by their conditions without denial or extreme fixation yet bounced back nobly with courage as if to showcase a map road on how one should deal with the given situations. The way Adebayo's characters respond to their problems makes one live in the moment which makes it easier to relate or understand. Relatively, in Thlabi’s novel, the study notes how she constructively advocated for the wellness of others with an ultimate care on how they are feeling, treated and supported when dealing with certain situations. Her area of focus was much placed on the effect of rape, the failing justice system, unfair treatment for low class citizens, gender inequalities, the silenced voices and the victims of political affiliations. The book being a non-fiction, it erases the thoughts of fantasies from the minds of the readers with its sensitive content, however these are the very incidents worth documenting where civilians will affirm the cruelty of those in powerful positions when they have no or minimal interests in the welfare of their subordinates. Thlabi took us through different stages of life with all elements of suffering experienced by Kwezi. Creatively enough, she did not only expose the ill acts, she also guided Kwezi to support systems and gained her positive communities of sympathisers who fought and stood with her through the process. She discouraged the blind loyalty that certain public individuals give to their political allies at the expense of others and with her acts managed to convince a group of women that gathered at the court on the day of the judgement. Despite the trauma, Kwezi felt heard, supported and cared for with these people. Her suffering was minimised and self-love rekindled. She however remained strong in her own capacity and courageous to the end in standing her ground of claiming honesty. Conclusively, the study has successfully attained its objectives in the selected texts. They are notable to be identified as models in the cry for reconstructing mental health in literary works. Both authors wrote consciously addressing the sufferings of the society and indirectly discourages such conducts within societies as they fully highlight the effect it has on those affected. The texts are exceptional.




Namibia, Thesis, mental health, representation, literary works, trauma theory, resilience theory, trauma model


Sheetekela, F. S. N. (2023). A literary reconstruction of mental health as portrayed in Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀'s Stay with me and Redi Tlhabi's Khwezi - the remarkable story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo [Master's thesis: Namibia University of Science and Technology].