Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo
Threatening Gestures, Immoral Bodies: Kingunza after Kimbangu
This chapter outlines the politics, shifting meanings, and uses of Kongo embodied practices through an analysis of performative encounters in two time periods: 1934 to 1936, and the mid- to late 1950s in Luozi territory. This chapter examines the kingunza movements after the arrest and imprisonment of Simon Kimbangu, as well as colonial discourses on secular Kongo dances (makinu), which were seen as “indecent” threats to public morality. As the prophetic movements gained strength and Kongo people continued to participate irrespective of persecution, colonial agents visualized the potential of using Kongo makinu to combat the kingunza movement, an approach that missionaries disliked. However, the chapter also examines how Swedish missionary-led churches, after losing many of their members to the kingunza movement, came to embrace some of the embodied practices that defined the prophetic movement, leading to disapproval from the colonial administration.