Rhodésie

Bro. J. Langlois, F.M.S.

11/Jun/2010

Voilà 35 ans que les Frères Maristes canadiens sont en Rhodésie (1939), d'où ils ont essaimé vers le Malawi (1946) et la Zambie (1954). Dans les trois pays réunis ils sont encore une centaine à l'œuvre dans des écoles secondaires, normales, technique, etc. Tout l'enseignement est destiné aux Africains, à l'exception de l'école de Qué Qué en Rhodésie qui a un groupe multiracial formé d'Africains, d'Européennes, de Mulâtres, d'Hindous – d'allégeances religieuses les plus diverses. Dans un pays de racisme virulent, l'école de Qué Qué est un témoignage éloquent de la charité chrétienne qui ne fait acception de personne. Comme partout ailleurs, le problème majeur est le manque de personnel. La Rhodésie a 7 Frères africains, et Malawi 5. Plusieurs aspirants font renaître l'espoir pour l'avenir.

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Hace 35 años que los HH. Maristas canadienses llegaron a Rodesia (1939). Poco después se extendieron por Malawi (1946) y por Zambia (1954). En la actualidad hay en estos tres países unos 100 HH. ocupados en escuelas secundarias, normales, técnicas, etc. Todas son escuelas para africanos, salvo la de Qué Qué, en Rodesia, polifacética en razas y religiones, integrada por africanos, europeos, mulatos, hindúes… En un país de virulento racismo, la escuela de Qué Qué es un testimonio elocuente de la caridad cristiana que no hace acepción de personas. La falta de personal es, como en todas partes, el problema capital. Rodesia tiene 7 Hnos. africanos y Malawi 5. Varios aspirantes permiten alimentar la esperanza de posible continuidad.

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A presença dos Irmâos Maristas canadenses na Rodesia data de 1939; no Malawi, data de 1946; e na Zâmbia, de 1954. Ao total, urna centena, dirigindo escolas secundarias, normáis e técnicas. Todos os alunos sao Africanos; em QuéQué, Rodesia, o conjunto é multiracial: Africanos, Europeus, Mulatos, Indús, de diversas religiôes. Assim, QuéQué testemunha eloquentemente a caridade crista que nao distingue raças nem pessoas. O maior problema é o da falta de pessoal docente. Há 7 Irmâos africanos na Rodesia e 5 no Malawi. Alguns aspirantes incutem esperanças quanto ao porvir.

 

Five Brothers from Canada and one from South Africa came to this country in 1939 to take charge of Kutama Training School. It was then the only institution preparing male teachers for Catholic primary schools in what is now Rhodesia, Zambia and Botswana. The labour of these men was therefore to have tremendous repercussions in Central Africa.

From this first foundation Brothers later went out to neighbouring Malawi and Zambia, where there is now a District and a Sector respectively. Today 53 of us carry on Marist work in this country alone, while 2 are at studies overseas and 4 are temporarily on loan to the newly formed Sector in Zambia. To date 5 of our men have gone to their eternal reward.

Our houses of formation offer much hope for the future of the Church in this part of the world. We have now reached the stage of having regular groups of postulants and novices. Up to now we have had 13 Brothers recruited locally, 8 of whom are still with us: 7 Africans and 1 Englishman. At various times we have contributed to the formation programmes of the Major Seminary and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart; we have also trained candidates for the Society of Mariannhill, the Carmelites and the Franciscans.

This year we are active in 8 schools, 3 of which are co-ed. Of these, 6 offer academic schooling, 2 have a teacher training department and 1 specializes in technical subjects.

While much of our personnel and our resources is devoted to the Christian education of African young men and women, we have opted to maintain a multi-racial school. This institution caters for 170 Asian, African, European and Coloured youngsters who are either Catholic, Protestant, Moslem or Hindu. It is in this school that our candidates do their Levels, a two year course preparatory to entrance at university. We feel strongly that in the conditions prevailing in the country, we must give a witness to the universality of Christian love in both our membership – six different nationalities – and our apostolate.

All our pupils are boarders, a common feature in Rhodesia, for outside a handful of comparatively large industrial centres communities tend to be small and scattered. Were it not for the sacrifices of their brothers, uncles and sometimes benefactors, many of our students would not be with us. Boarding fees are beyond the means of many peasant farmers and small wage earners in spite of the fact that we manage to keep them down to roughly (U.S.) $ 150 per annum as the Ministry of Education pays all the salaries of our teachers.

Many of our former students are prominent Christians in posts of responsibility and the various professions. One of them is bishop, a good number are priests and religious. One finds them on parish councils, diocesan and national church bodies. There are a few problems naturally, one of them being that many drop Mass attendance for some time once they have left school. Quite a few delay getting married in church due largely to the exorbitant sums demanded of them as ' lobola', or bride wealth. Yet there is no doubt that we have contribute in no small measure to the emergence of a Christian outlook, the preparation of Christian leaders and the increasing number of Christian families.

Several trends are noticeable in our apostolate:

– The impetus given to our formation programme in the past decade which is now bearing fruit.

– The new interest in technical education which answers a specific need in the country.

If assistance from overseas materializes, we shall expand Dett into a comprehensive school with one stream academic and two others technical, for both boys and girls.

– The hiring of more lay teachers.

This has enabled us to spread out, a step that brought us more recruits. This is bringing us in turn to re-examine our role in the schools we manage.

– The greater association of lay staff to our work.

Among other measures adopted, we have appointed two laymen as headmasters, several as deputy headmasters and more still have become members of our school councils.

– The policy of accepting candidates for various forms of apostolate aimed at the Christian education of youth.

– The offering of assistance to institutions not under our care, either to help them out of difficulty, to provide specialists or to assist them to get off the ground.

One Brother is now full-time secretary to the Justice and Peace Commission in Rhodesia, another is on the Catholic Secretariat for Education in Zambia and a third helped the lay staff at a mission station gradually to take over management of a secondary school; incidentally all of these teachers are ex-Marist students.

– The enrolment of more non-Catholic students with a view to serve each region.

This obviously poses some problems, but it also raises new possibilities.

– The decision to help those sectors of the country that are neglected.

Dett, our latest foundation, is the only secondary school in the whole of the Wankie Diocese on our western border.

Outside assistance would enable us to do more to meet the needs of the local Church. Here are some forms it could take:

– Qualified personnel to help us to staff our A Level centre at Que Que which caters for our own candidates as well as those Of other communities.

– Helpers, even on a temporary basis, to enable us to send Brothers for sessions of spiritual renewal and further studies overseas.

– Brothers qualified in specific technical subjects to give the initial impetus to the new programme of technical education.

– Experts in such fields as catechetics and the techniques of Spiritual animation for pupils.

– Animators for community retreats and sessions on the religious life and our apostolate, a form of assistance that other communities would also welcome.

– A Brother or two to teach at the University College who could thus be of help to the young Brothers studying there.

"The harvest is great, but the labourers are few."

Bro. J. Langlois, F.M.S.

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