This paper will discuss the gendering of the critical divide between oral and literary culture in relation to two Mozambican short stories: ‘Maria Pedra no cruzar dos caminhos’ published in Mia Couto’s 2004 collection O Fio das Missangas and Paulina Chiziane’s ‘As Cicatrizes do Amor’ published in the 1994 anthology O Conto Moçam- bicano. Da Oralidade à Escrita (eds. Maria Luisa Godinho and Lourenço Rosário). The question that concerns me is how Couto and Chiziane have both in different ways engaged with the problem of writing gender relations into the pre-gendered, pre-coded dichotomy of (mother tongue) orality versus (paternal phallic) script. With reference to the above short stories, I seek to explore how African women writers such as Chiziane may exorcise the ‘false father’ of colonial and post-colo- nial literary paternity, and how both male and female writers from Africa may rescue their specific gender histories from the no less mythical dominion of the oral cultural matrix, the overarching ‘false mother’.
Third World/Third Sex: Gender, Orality and a Tale of Two Marias in Mia Couto and Paulina Chiziane
By Hilary Owen, 2007