Original Research

Zenobia’s story: how a victim of abuse uses isiXhosa to account for her actions

M. Dlali, S. Mokapela
Literator | Vol 29, No 2 | a118 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v29i2.118 | © 2008 M. Dlali, S. Mokapela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 July 2008 | Published: 25 July 2008

About the author(s)

M. Dlali, Department of African Languages, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
S. Mokapela, Department of African Languages, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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This article explores the theoretical work in articulating the motivations and conditions for account-giving in isiXhosa in relation to image restoration. The account-making process, according to Warren (1989), is like a life in motion in which individual characters are portrayed as moving through their experiences, dealing with some conflict or problem in their lives and at the same time searching for a solution. The narrator discovers at the age of twelve that the person she is referring to as her mother is not her real mother and that her real mother died while giving birth to her. The situation at home deteriorates after the death of her father. Her desperation is further fuelled when her stepmother marries a taxi-driver who sexually abuses her. The narrator then resorts to alcohol and drug abuse to cope with her growing sense of not belonging. The opportunity for changing her life and opening up endless avenues for progress and advancement comes when the narrator passes matric and, through her father’s will, pursues her studies at a tertiary institution. She graduates as a top student and now practices as a medical doctor. This quest to understand the major stresses in each individual’s mind is at the core of this article.


Account-Giving; Identity; Narrative Account; Self-Narrative


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