“Silence is not Silent”: A Postcolonial Feminist Appraisal of Women Silence in Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness
Most of the western feminist readings of literary texts in which third world women are at the center do strongly confirm the biased stereotypical depictions usually ascribed to them. However, such is not always the case of all women featured in African literature whose silences proved to be often subversive. Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness accesses the post-Civil War repertoire of Mozambique from, mainly, a black female vantage perspective. Through the focal female character Mariamar, the novel rethinks the female subaltern voices and positions. It probes the dynamics of silence and the possibilities it instigates. From a postcolonial feminist lens, the insights of Chandra Mohanty in particular, this paper examines Couto’s use of silence as a mysterious force overloaded with speech. It underlines some of the female depatriarching and self-empowerment strategies, namely narrating and writing one’s own story in the novel under study. In a village like kulumani, the atmospheric effect of the sound of silence reverberates more than the spoken word does. Reading the text from this standpoint is a starting point to depart the totalizing attitudes and the single story generally attributed to Africa and African women.