Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera openly experiments with ways of retaining the features of precolonial orality in postcolonial writing that is primarily concerned with offering contemporary African women a moment of intervention, a free (written) space which is “much freer than speech.” For, Vera argued in her 1999 collection of African women’s writings, appropriately titled Opening Spaces:
If speaking is still difficult to negotiate, then writing has created a free space for most women -much freer than speech [...] The book is bound, circulated, read. It retains its autonomy much more than a woman is allowed in the oral situation
(Vera, 1999: 3).
So Vera promotes writing because it works against the silencing imposed on women by the combined pressure of patriarchy and colonialism which still affect women’s lives: “to write is to banish silence,” she declares in Under the Tongue (Vera, 1996: 93). This does not mean that she accepts the written word as an unproblematic alternative to the s...