Saturday, July 23, 2005

Returning Home to Rubble

"I am sitting like a butterfly or like a bird that stays in the tree. No house, no seat." So says Gertrude Musaruro, who lost her home in Zimbabwe's ruthless drive against squatters and is now sleeping on the ruins of what she used to call home, in thisWashington Post article.

In the former squatter community of Porta Farm (itself a relocation camp of people evicted from Harare more than a decade ago for Queen Elizabeth's visit to Zimbabwe), new temporary building-types are emerging: "Old pieces of thatch roof and rusty scraps of sheet metal were fashioned into tiny houses. One 15-year-old girl sewed plastic lime bags into a tent that fit over a frame of branches."

Squatters are incredibly determined and resourceful. Though their houses may look precarious and may lack basic public amenities, squatters treasure their abodes and communities as much as any legal occupant. The squatters will rise up and build, over and over, even facing brutal government opposition. Come to think of it, that's a pretty decent definition of courage and patriotism.

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