Theories of the grotesque in postcolonial African aesthetics often emphasize the visual, even in literature. By contrast, this presentation explores screams—and related violent vocal production like howls, cries, and curses—in the Zimbabwean Dambudzo Marechera’s collection of short stories House of Hunger (1978) and the Congolese Sony Labou Tansi’s novels La vie et demie (trans. Life and a Half, 1979) and Les septs solitudes de Lorsa Lopez (trans. The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez, 1985) in order to think critically about what the grotesque sounds like. Drawing on postcolonial literary studies and critical race theory, I identify two important aspects of the scream in Anglophone and Francophone African literature. First, I argue that the scream presents a crisis of form. Marechera and Sony challenge the scream’s compatibility with textual form and, in doing so, they cast doubt on the governability of language and the function of orality in contemporary African textuality. Second, I discuss how the two writers conceive of the body’s affiliation to language in the face of colonial and postcolonial violence. Revisiting the ‘language debate’ in African literary studies, I consider the political value that Marechera and Sony ascribe to the scream as a response to and contestation of the colonial regime of speech and its afterlife. My reading of an Anglophone and a Francophone African writer in a transnational comparative framework engages with questions on the relationship between (post-)colonial violence, language, and textuality.