Insertion communities: Zimbabwe, Peru, Brazil and France 1

For me, Zambuko House (Harare, Zimbabwe) is a community of cultural insertion. An existing institution does not immediately become indigenised when a local rector or minister takes over. Zambuko was started by Bro.Canisius Chishiri as a refuge and rehabilitation home for street boys. As such, it has to be a family, so I learn to live the things I thought I knew about African family. The boys call me ‘sekuru’ (grandfather/uncle) and treat me as sekuru, much less remote than ‘Baba Fata’: popping in for a chat or to introduce their visitors, or to get their e-mail on my computer, or to give me some of the fruit they have picked in the garden. What is more significant is finding my role in the neighbourhood. In this divided society, the white man is a strange remote creature. In and around a known church institution, people know the Baba Fata is different; not ‘one of them’ but very rarely ‘one of us’. Our neighbours don’t have that stereotype, but just being a neighbour means avoiding stereotypes like the ‘good murungu’, a cross between Santa Claus and Superman. The Baba Fata is a subspecies of this genus ! By contrast, I feel something constructive is happening when I am ?sekuru? to the young men who drive minibuses and the small children in the squatter camp behind our house, especially when I learn that some mothers who encourage them to greet me obviously used to threaten bad children with the bogeyman, who is big and white and hairy. Or when I can swap plant cuttings and gardening tips (I get more advice than I give) or join the older men for a beer on a Saturday. Then again, one or two people know I used to write a weekly column in the Daily News before it was banned, and when someone suggests I would be interested in a residents’ association they are trying to form, I feel something more visible is happening. [HL50401] Brian MacGarry SJ, bmacgarry@mango.zw