Decolonising the ‘epistemic decolonial turn’ in women's fiction: Tsitsi Dangarembga's She No Longer Weeps (1987) and Federico Garcia Lorca's Dona Rosita the Spinister (2008)
The aim of this article is to participate in the debate on the ‘epistemic decolonial turn’ that is popularised in Latin America, and has found succour in some African universities despite the fact that its origin is in Western Europe. The article does not intend to be exhaustive of all the orphic dimensions to this debate; rather, we intent to raise questions on the suitability and timing of the introduction of this debate in Africa and Latin America because we think that this debate could very well be another form of intellectual structural adjustment programme being imposed, time without end on Africa and Latin America by western and North American intellectuals. We are aware that we are implicated in furthering the debate by our very participation in it. However, the article intents to reveal the aporetic narratives within the debate as conducted in Africa and Latin America. The article uses the works of Tsitsi Dangarembga's She No Longer Weeps (1987) and Federico Garcia Lorca's Dona Rosita the Spinister (2008). If anyone protests that our primary sources are few, we are the first to answer in the affirmative, but argue humbly that we do not need 100 novels to show that a theoretical ‘turn’ such as is implied in the auspicious phrase ‘epistemic decolonial turn’ is an ideological position, in transition, not finished, unsettled, work-in-progress that is bound to produce narratives that are more fractured than the stabilised ‘turn’ implied in the term. Multiple turns can be imagined and authorised from unexpected cultural sites when ‘decolonial turns’ are conceptualised as self-reflexive. A reading of Dangarembga's She No Longer Weeps (1987) set in Zimbabwe and Lorca's Dona Rosita the Spinister (2008) – another dramatic text but – set in Granada requires that the ‘epistemic decolonial turn’ be ‘decolonised’ because the concept's excessive privileging of formerly colonised men's theoretical voices threatens to occlude and then generalise on the voices of women in the Third and First worlds by projecting these voices as ideologically even. The article argues that the coloniality of power can inhabit the structures of feeling of the very intellectuals seeking to further the debate, about which the ‘decolonial turn’ is meant to be effected in the name of ordinary people. To argue in this manner is not to succumb to reckless despair; it is to caution against reckless theoretical hope overzealously displayed by some African academics who uncreatively import the debate into Africa, forcing Africans to fight an intellectual war which may not – after all – be a war that Africans have chosen for themselves.