Meet Me at the Palaver makes the case for a particular approach to pastoral counseling as a response to the destructive impact of colonial Christianity on indigenous African communities. The book opens with stories of destructive change brought to indigenous contexts (such as Zimbabwe, Africa), wherein the culture, values, religion, and humanity of African peoples were often marginalized. Mucherera demonstrates that therapy or counseling as taught in the West will not always suffice in such contexts, since these approaches tend to promote and focus on individuality, autonomy, and independence. Counselors in indigenous contexts need to “get off their couch or chair” and into the neighborhoods—into those places made vulnerable to disease and poverty by the collapse of “the palaver” and other traditional institutions of social stability. Since storytelling was at the heart of the practices of the palaver and continues to be a way of life in African cultures, Mucherera argues for a holistic narrative pastoral counseling approach to assess and service the three basic areas of human needs in indigenous African communities: body, mind, and spirit.
“Mucherera tactfully captures the lost art of storytelling as a mode of communication for therapy and moral values. Though commonly used by indigenous Africans to transmit oral traditions, the narrative approach is a unique tool that creates safe distance for the care receiver and offers ample opportunity to the caregiver to non-judgmentally form an uplifting and therapeutic relationship. This book is a must read for all pastoral caregivers, pastors, counselors, and ministry students, since the narrative approach is an effective communication tool in today’s cross cultural world.”
Anne Kiome Gatobu, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Asbury Theological Seminary
“The impact of Western colonialism’s attempt to extinguish indigenous peoples’ stories, communities, value systems, and culture—recruiting them into negative identities through colonial strategies—has crippled, for example, African people’s ability to face many contemporary problems such as poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This book presents a hopeful strategy of recovering stories, cultural traditions, and values that have been subjugated in the past as effective means for dealing with contemporary life in indigenous contexts such as Zimbabwe. This narrative pastoral counseling approach is based on traditional African wisdom as well as the knowledge growing out of the author’s pastoral counseling experience in Africa and the United States. The author challenges dangerous traditional practices in the age of HIV/AIDS, and the need for justice for the poor. A must read for those interested in working with indigenous peoples.”
Edward P. Wimberly, Academic Dean & the Jarena Lee Professor of Pastoral Care at I. T. C. in Atlanta.