Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo
”A War between Soldiers and Prophets”: Embodied Resistance in Colonial Belgian Congo, 1921
2016. "”A War between Soldiers and Prophets”: Embodied Resistance in Colonial Belgian Congo, 1921", Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo, Yolanda Covington-Ward
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This chapter uses archival documents as well as personal interviews to examine spirit-induced trembling (zakama) in the context of prophetic movements (kingunza) as a site of political contestation between the church, the colonial state, and the indigenous population in the Lower Congo. The chapter focuses on one year—1921—the year that the kingunza movement began with the emergence of the prophet Simon Kimbangu. The chapter analyzes several specific performative encounters with spirit-induced trembling as their focus, to demonstrate how the kingunza movement used a type of spiritual legitimacy gained from the religious realm to subvert Belgian colonial authority. Thus, Kongo bodies were used as key weapons of resistance against Western missionaries and an oppressive colonial state.