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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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A SENSE OF PLACE (Category: Uganda)


As I prepare to leave Uganda for a month to visit family and friends for the Christmas holidays, and as I celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Friday, December 12), I find myself thinking about place, this place, in East Africa, especially as I greet, and am greeted by Ugandan neighbors on the street.

I regularly walk from my residence to the local coffee shop where I can work quietly, use my computer and sip the best double expresso in town. (Starbucks, eat your heart out!) To reach my destination, I pass through the front gate of Lourdel House, the residence of the Missionaries of Africa -- aka The While Fathers -- the French counterpart to Maryknoll. Since it is customary for passers on the street to greet each other, as I leave Lourdel house, I'm sometimes greeted in French, because of my location in front of French "territory" (even though I'm wearing jeans, t-shirt and a cap). As I pass by the Mill Hill place (the British counterpart to Mary- knoll), I'm greeted in English. Other "neighbors" will join me as I walk the road and greet me in English, with "You are very welcome", followed by the inevitable: Who are you, what are you doing here, so glad to welcome you, etc. Ugandans have a wonderful sense of place. Here is their home, family, tribe. White persons (muzungus) are foreigners. So (I think) they want muzungus to feel that they are part of their "village". It happens in so many ways. Relaxed, friendly, chatty, but always welcoming and charming. 

I recall my favorite Chilean expression that Bernardita Sanchez (my Chilean family) laughingly but tellingly sometimes said to me: Claude, ubíquate. Locate yourself. Parents say the same thing to children who act inappropriately, or walk the wrong path (so to speak). The French call such a person  dépister, or off the path. Celebrating the feast of Guadalupe helps me to relocate myself, as part of the Americas (North and South), and now rooted in Africa (at least, East). I felt until today that I had one foot in each continent. Now, the liturgy of Guadalupe makes me feel that I have booth feet firmly planted in her villages,  in East Africa and in the Americas.

I will try to find a local song (it will probably be African rap) that is similar to Las Mañanitas. Ubíquate!
Permalink | Thursday, December 11, 2008