Cover image for Kimbanguism: An African Understanding of the Bible By Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot and Translated by Cécile Coquet-Mokoko

Kimbanguism

An African Understanding of the Bible

Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot, Translated by Cécile Coquet-Mokoko

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$92.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-07755-0

304 pages
6" × 9"
23 b&w illustrations/2 maps
2017

Signifying (on) Scriptures

Kimbanguism

An African Understanding of the Bible

Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot, Translated by Cécile Coquet-Mokoko

“This book is a refreshing, in-depth scholarly and empathetic analysis of Kimbanguism, a movement considered to be one of the most enduring African-initiated churches on the continent and in the African diaspora. Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot brilliantly explores how Kimbanguists engage the Bible on issues of ultimate and secular concerns, and he eloquently combines an insider’s knowledge with deep scholarly insights to produce an excellent book that illuminates what the movement means today for Africans and the world at large.”

 

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An Open Access edition of Kimbanguism is available through PSU Press Unlocked. To access this free electronic edition click here. Print editions are also available.

In this volume, Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot, a sociologist and son of a Kimbanguist pastor, provides a fresh and insightful perspective on African Kimbanguism and its traditions.

The largest of the African-initiated churches, Kimbanguism claims seventeen million followers worldwide. Like other such churches, it originated out of black African resistance to colonization in the early twentieth century and advocates reconstructing blackness by appropriating the parameters of Christian identity. Mokoko Gampiot provides a contextual history of the religion’s origins and development, compares Kimbanguism with other African-initiated churches and with earlier movements of political and spiritual liberation, and explores the implicit and explicit racial dynamics of Christian identity that inform church leaders and lay practitioners. He explains how Kimbanguists understand their own blackness as both a curse and a mission and how that underlying belief continuously spurs them to reinterpret the Bible through their own prisms.

Drawing from an unprecedented investigation into Kimbanguism’s massive body of oral traditions—recorded sermons, participant observations of church services and healing sessions, and translations of hymns—and informed throughout by Mokoko Gampiot’s intimate knowledge of the customs and language of Kimbanguism, this is an unparalleled theological and sociological analysis of a unique African Christian movement.

“This book is a refreshing, in-depth scholarly and empathetic analysis of Kimbanguism, a movement considered to be one of the most enduring African-initiated churches on the continent and in the African diaspora. Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot brilliantly explores how Kimbanguists engage the Bible on issues of ultimate and secular concerns, and he eloquently combines an insider’s knowledge with deep scholarly insights to produce an excellent book that illuminates what the movement means today for Africans and the world at large.”

Aurélien Mokoko Gampiot is a scholar in the sociology of religion at the GSRL-CNRS (Sorbonne University). He is the author of two reference books on Kimbanguism for the French-speaking public.

Cécile Coquet-Mokoko is Associate Professor of American and African American Studies at the Université François Rabelais.

Introduction

“Black race, you must know that you were only the dregs of mankind”; “Africa, oh Africa, all riches are yours”; “You, Black person, God has loved you from the beginning”; “Black is the skin God had chosen in this world”: these literary, biblical-sounding calls to the Black race come from hymns, which are one of the sacred theological sources of Kimbanguism. An African-initiated church born in the 1920s from the preaching and healing campaign conducted by Simon Kimbangu, a Congolese Baptist catechist, in reaction to the colonial situation in the Belgian Congo, Kimbanguism has cultivated a theology of Black liberation by offering a unique understanding of the Bible.

Because the Bible was inseparable from the European colonial enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa, its use, circulation, and promotion rapidly became a political instrument as much as a religious one. Consequently, the Christian religion has been among the most effective tools of colonial domination of African natives, who were exposed to the Bible from the fifteenth century onward. When Christian missionaries began spreading the gospel in African societies, they introduced the Bible as a unique account of the history of humanity, which was endowed with a logic of racial classification putting Whites on top and Blacks at the bottom. According to this logic, even before they were subjugated, Africans had been long prepared to occupy the lowest rung on the ladder of humankind, a position to which they are still assigned today. The most familiar and striking example of this is, no doubt, the biblical myth of the curse of Ham. For this myth to take on ideological and legal dimensions, the Christian colonial message had to bring the dominated to accept their own domination, so that Blacks would participate in and collaborate with their own inferiorization. The philosopher Albert Memmi recalled, “As a child, I often heard people tell me very seriously about the origins of black bondage: we all know that of the three sons of Noah, Shem begat the Semites, who received the law, Japheth begat the northern peoples, who inherited technical skills, and Ham fathered the Hamites, who—well, who didn’t get anything. And that is why Europeans can, with the blessing of Holy Providence, dominate the Africans. This was the first attempt to explain the colonization process by the ‘colonizability’ of indigenous peoples.”1

This is how many columnists of the colonial press used the religious metaphor of a biblical ancestor’s sin to justify the inferiorization of the Black people, as the Guinean historian Ibrahima Baba Kaké explained: “Black people, it is said in Christian schools, are the descendants of Ham, and the curse uttered by Noah against the son of Ham who had disrespected him still weighs on his posterity. This assertion was so categorical and was repeated over so many centuries that it ended up in history books.”2

Claiming to be universal, Christianity was imposed as the religion of all, regardless of ethnic and racial difference. But the Eurocentric nature of its message entailed a phenomenon of counter-acculturation, which led Africans to observe themselves using all possible modes—concern, questioning, self-deprecating humor, self-criticism—whether or not they defined themselves as believers. For instance, a philosopher from Burundi related a debate he had with some friends on African atheism; one of them began complaining about the lot of Black people everywhere: “I can’t believe in God. . . . If God exists, He must be evil. I can’t forgive Him for letting blacks all over the world be poverty-stricken and despised by every human being.”3 This view is not unique. It echoes a conversation with one of my maternal uncles, who had never received a formal education and explained his atheism in these words: “For me, God does not exist; God is just the White man. He’s been able to invent the radio, electricity, planes, and the like.”

What these two examples reveal is not so much the notion that God is truly evil or is actually the White man, but a critique of the oppressed status experienced by Blacks. This critique was also echoed, from a Christian perspective, by a famous Congolese singer who was very popular in the 1970s, Georges Kiamuangana Mateta (aka Verckys). In his hit “Nakomitunaka” (I Am Wondering), the artist questioned the manner in which Blacks had been Christianized:

I am wondering (bis)

My God, I am wondering: (bis)

Where on earth does black skin come from?

And who was our ancestor?

Jesus, the son of God, was a White man.

Adam and Eve were White people.

All the saints were White people too.

Why is that so, my God?

I am wondering (bis)

My God, I am wondering! (bis)

In the books about God we see

that all the angels

are pictured as White people,

and all saints

are pictured as White people.

But when it comes to the Devil,

then he is pictured as a Black man!

Where does this injustice come from, oh mother?

I am wondering (bis)

My God, I am wondering: (bis)

Where on earth does black skin come from?

The colonists keep us from understanding.

They reject the statues of our ancestors,

and the fetishes of our forefathers

are not accepted by them.

But we can all see that in church,

we pray with rosary beads in our hands.

We pray

to the images that fill the church:

But all these images show only White people.

Why is that so, my God?

I am wondering (bis)

My God, I am wondering: (bis)

The prophets of the Whites

are accepted by us,

but those of the Blacks

are not accepted by them.

My God, why did You make us so?

Where is our ancestor, that of Black people?

Africa has opened her eyes.

Africa, there’s no turning back for us (ah mother)

I am wondering! (bis)4

This song, which belongs to the tradition of Congolese rumba, was written by Verckys in 1971 and was well known to the Congolese from both sides of the river and to the Angolans as well. It reflects the Eurocentricity behind the Christianization of Africans, with angels represented according to European codes equating Whiteness with perfection, beauty, and purity. When positive values are only represented through White characters, it is impossible to develop a positive image of Blackness. To a certain extent, this approach was the result of the “discovery” of the African continent, which compelled Africans to come to terms with Europeans’ presence and ultimately to embrace religions designed for others. Black people could only find a place for themselves in this worldview by assimilating it and accepting their condition as slaves or subalterns. But this did not preclude the possibility of a backlash. The song above is an example of the reactions of Black people who, instead of accepting the imposed order, challenged it by questioning the reason for their oppressed situation.

The large-scale Christianization of Africa was shaped by the Berlin Conference of 1884–85. From then on, Black people were perceived only as children to be disciplined by the White man or as objects of pseudo-scientific studies, to be used for theorizing on evolution. Space does not allow an exhaustive list of all the theories developed to explain the low rank of Black people in the social order, but let me briefly discuss the most relevant one, social Darwinism, which posits a global evolution of all societies, whose growth is supposed to follow three stages, from savagery (the inferior stage) to barbarity (the medium stage) to civilization (the superior stage). As the French historian Éric Savarèse pointed out in writing about colonial representations of African peoples in the West, “without a doubt, it was the Black man—as abstractly defined in many works—who appeared as the most infantilized.”5 But how to designate African societies? With a colonial term such as “tribe”? In terms of race, ethnicity, community, or society? Until the colonial bureaucrats defined specific usages of the concepts of race and ethnicity, finding the right term was a problem. In the field of science, the Western conception of the African Other was warped by its ethnocentric character, and this was even more true in the field of religion. As Vincent Wimbush stressed, the need to define the term “religion” also revealed a hierarchy between “civilized” and “savage” nations, which was invented in the wake of the first contact between the West and the worlds of the Other: “In this new situation and the discursive political climate, dominated peoples—savages/primitives—could now be seen as being either hyperreligious or not religious at all, or not religious on the right terms.”6

The concept of religion has generated a “Tower of Babel of definitions,” as the French sociologist Yves Lambert used to say. The word comes from the Latin religare, which means “to tie” or “to link together,” thus designating the connection between human beings and the deity, as developed by the thinkers Lactantius (A.D. ca. 260–ca. 325) and Tertullian (A.D. ca. 155–ca. 220). A second understanding of the term was proposed by the linguist Benveniste, for whom religere meant “to gather or collect; to accomplish scrupulously,” thereby joining together the authority of tradition and the punctilious performance of rituals. How is religion to be defined in an age when religious affiliations are increasingly shifting all over the world? In his search for delimiting criteria, Lambert stressed that the human quest for origins was always inseparable from the assumed existence of one or several deities or of a form of transcendence, which may be embodied, such as in the notion of mana, where a living being may be comprehended as a power or entity. It also seems important to distinguish religion from magic and witchcraft “on the basis of the existence or absence of communal activities, since magic and witchcraft are usually practiced in the private sphere.”7

In the African context, it makes sense to ask whether it is most appropriate to use the concept of religion or the concept of a belief system. Indeed, many scholars have tended to designate as “African religion(s)” a suite of behaviors in which customs and rituals intersect with kinship systems and superstitions, thus creating a hazy notion from which it is difficult to extract any specifically religious content. In his study of religions among the Beti people of Cameroon, the French sociologist Philippe Laburthe-Tolra observed, “There was no term to accurately translate ‘religion’ in their language. . . . In the realm of conscience and belief, the most difficult thing to grasp for a modern Westerner was, no doubt, the sense of a continuous and immanent presence of the invisible world, interweaved in the visible one.”8 Thus it is possible to retain as functional the definition of religion proposed by Lambert: “a system of beliefs and practices related to supernatural forms of reality—whether they are living beings, entities, or forces—in connection with human beings via symbolic means, such as prayers, rituals or meditation, and giving birth to communal forms of expression.”9

This definition seems relevant insofar as it encompasses all the elements pertaining to religion, religiosity, or new religious movements establishing systems of beliefs and practices in relation to the metasocial sphere, as well as communal forms of expression. Yet it remains inadequate to account for elements pertaining to identity construction, particularly religious shifts in African belief systems. Indeed, defining religion in a contemporary context implies taking into account the motivations, thought patterns, and social interests at work behind the subjective choices of actors, which shape their behaviors. The field of religions is a particularly rich one when it comes to exploring ethnic identities, thought patterns, ethics, and weltanschauungs. Every religion claims to be, in the words of Claude Rivière, “both a system which accounts for human nature and the universe and an organized system of action seeking to remedy whatever is unpredictable, uncanny, and accidentally tragic in social and individual life.”10 For Clifford Geertz, “It is a matter of discovering just what sorts of beliefs and practices support what sorts of faith under what sorts of conditions.”11 Through their actions, words, and behaviors, human beings define their ways of life, their relations to others and the world, and their understandings of the forces at work behind all these interactions.

It is thus easy to grasp the religious and political motivations behind the Christianization of Africans. The missionaries, whose purpose was to preach the gospel, actively contributed to the colonial venture by preparing, training, and socializing the colonized peoples so that they would adopt certain types of moral behavior and promulgate a system of beliefs based on White superiority. While the ideology of social hierarchy put into place a specific order for social classification, the processes of social differentiation and hierarchy began to be questioned and contested. Thus, political, regionalist, nationalist, and religious movements emerged among subaltern peoples as challenges to the social order or as movements of counter-acculturation or appropriation of the self-image imposed by the colonizers. One of these Black ideologies was the négritude movement, initiated in the 1930s by intellectuals such as Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor, who inspired other Black leaders. It was followed by Afrocentric theories developed in the 1950s by Cheikh Anta Diop and Théophile Obenga, who claimed that African civilizations predated White ones.

These new ways of theorizing Blacks and Blackness, though adopted by many, did not remain unquestioned. The following comments by a Cameroonian theologian illustrate this point: “As such, the thesis of the preexistence of African civilizations does not change anything in the present situation of black people. Even worse, there has been a decline of the trailblazers, and one wonders why the first have become last. The knowledge of our creativity is of no use whatsoever if it does not allow us to take up historical initiative in the here and now.”12 The answer to the question “Why did the first become last?” is at the core of the quest of African-initiated churches, for they provide answers to the question of Blackness from a different perspective. The paradox of African Christianity is that it has embraced the Bible and the Christian message while implementing resistance to it, so there have been two antagonistic forces: on the one hand, the dominant culture, which aims at maintaining the dominated in an oppressed status, and on the other hand, religious resistance, which has taken all sorts of shapes. In some cases, Africans seem to uncritically accept the Bible that came from abroad; in other cases, they have appropriated it more actively, transforming it radically into systems of belief addressing their own situation in the here and now.

Some African churches have organized a process of counter-acculturation, reversing the stigma, reconstructing their identity, and rereading or reinterpreting the Bible. Throughout the history of the colonization of Africa, the political claim for national independence went hand in hand with religious movements of resistance known today as African independent, African-initiated, or Afro-Christian churches. Operating from within the closed space of the Christian scriptures, which had been introduced as a universal history that Black people had no choice but to internalize, African-initiated churches succeeded in restoring a positive historical or mythical role for them. As Lewis Gordon explained, “Rejecting the thesis of thought as fundamentally white requires liberating it from the economy of rationalizations that assert this. The liberation of thinking, then, becomes also an important dimension of liberation praxis. It requires addressing the dimensions of thought that have been barred from their potential or reach.”13 To give a satisfactory account of the way African-initiated churches have implemented such a liberation praxis, it is necessary to shed light on a number of concepts, namely, prophetism, messianism, millenarianism, nativism, and syncretism. The definitions offered by the American theologian David Barrett, who was an expert on African churches, are the most useful for a study of contemporary Kimbanguism:

(1) A prophetic movement is a religious awakening founded and led by the charismatic figure of a prophet or prophetess, who speaks from within a consciousness of being set apart for some divine purpose, adopts a critical stance towards the established order, proclaims a new religious idea or allegiance, and in the process attracts a considerable following.

(2) A messianic movement is one which, centred around a dominant personality, claims for [the leader] special powers beyond the prophetic and involving a form of identification with Christ. This definition is applicable to the African scene but differs somewhat from the current usage in the history of religions, where messianism refers to belief in the future advent of any being, singular or plural, expected by a community as the future savior who will end the present order of things and institute a new order of justice and happiness.

(3) A millennial movement is one which preaches an imminent millennium, Golden Age or End of the World, involving the overthrow of oppressors from outside Africa, the expulsion or throwing into the sea of the white race, the return or resurrection of a culture-hero or of the ancestors bringing unlimited quantities of material goods, the rejuvenation of the old, and often the reversal of colour roles.

(4) A nativistic movement is an organised attempt on the part of a society’s members to revive or perpetuate selected aspects of its culture, usually resulting in a rejection of European culture and a return to the old ways of traditional religion; often allied with it is an immunity cult rendering initiates immune from European assault.

(5) A syncretistic movement is one which amalgamates the Christian religion with traditional beliefs and concepts, and often with other non-Christian religious systems such as astrology, to such an extent that the revelation in Jesus Christ, and the Lordship of Christ over all other gods, is obscured, challenged or denied, leaving only an outwardly Christian appearance with a pre-Christian content.14

In chronological order, the oldest African messianic movement, Antonianism, was led by a Congolese prophet called Kimpa Vita, also known as Dona Beatriz (her Christian name), in the early eighteenth century. She initiated a nationalist and spiritual revival movement with a discourse that perfectly suited the mentality and expectations of her compatriots, whom she successfully mobilized for the restoration of the kingdom of Kongo.15

The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth witnessed the emergence of Black African churches in South Africa, first researched by Bengt Sundkler,16 which fell into two groups: the so-called Ethiopian churches and the Zionist churches. The former were the result of interethnic relations: an African Methodist pastor, Mangena Mokono, left the European churches to create an African independent church in 1892. Out of this church several other “Ethiopian” religious movements were born, all of them preaching the liberation of Black people from bondage. The Zionist churches, which emerged in southern Africa, were syncretic churches that took after Daniel Bryant’s African American church, the Christian Catholic Church in Zion.17 Quite probably, the Nazareth Baptist Church, initiated by the Zulu prophet Isaiah Shembe in 1911, played a significant role in the Zionist movement in South Africa, since he insisted on the worship of a Black Christ and on interpreting the Bible in the context of Zulu religion. Another historic African-initiated church discussed by scholars is the Harrist movement, launched by William Harris on the border between Liberia and Ivory Coast. Its goal was to bring Bible-based answers to the colonial problem.

The Kimbanguist movement, which is the focus of this book, was initiated by Simon Kimbangu in the early 1920s in the southwestern portion of the former Belgian Congo. Since then, it has become a major African-initiated church, as Jean-Claude Froelich pointed out: “Of all the African churches of classical messianic or prophetic type that were born from a reaction to colonial domination, the Kimbanguist Church is no doubt the most remarkable.”18 Although it is difficult to know the exact membership of the Kimbanguist Church, which has been a member of the World Council of Churches since 1969, Kimbanguists officially claim to be 17 million strong. The church’s success has triggered unrelenting interest from sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, historians, journalists, and theologians. The first scholar who developed an interest in Kimbanguism, who remains the best known, is the French Africanist Georges Balandier. Analyzing Congolese messianic movements as part of the dynamics of social change he was witnessing, Balandier perceived two alternatives: either the messianic movements of Africa were essentially religious, or they betokened the awakening of people who saw themselves as having neither past nor future, but were reacting against violations of their dignity. “They express a passionate desire for change; and because they assert the universal nature of human dignity, they represent a step towards universality.”19 Balandier’s work is centered around this time-hallowed tradition, which he described in the 1950s as a reaction to the colonial situation.

Subsequent research on Kimbanguism includes works by Marie-Louise Martin, a Swiss theologian and missiologist. The best known of these is Kimbangu: An African Prophet and His Church. Her theological approach has centered on two main questions: Is the Kimbanguist Church a Christian church or a cult? Does it run the risk of insisting on syncretic elements that could end up drawing it away from Christ as the only messiah and redeemer? Her observations throughout the 1960s and 1970s led her to conclude, “It is wrong to call the Kimbanguist Church a cult in the theological sense of the term, since it is in the process of ‘becoming and being a Church,’ which, I hope, we are all engaged in.”20 Also worthy of notice is the reference book written by the Congolese historian Martial Sinda, Le messianisme congolais et ses incidences politiques, published in 1972 with a preface by Roger Bastide called “Les Christs noirs.” It describes Kimbanguism and its splinter groups through the prism of Bakongo historical and religious traditions and in the Belgian and French colonial contexts. Other specialists on Kimbanguism who did extensive fieldwork in postcolonial Zaire between the 1960s and the mid-1980s are the American anthropologist Wyatt MacGaffey—who analyzed the church through the prism of Kongo cultural patterns and beliefs in his classic Modern Kongo Prophets—and the American sociologist Susan Asch, whose discussion of the Kimbanguist Church was articulated around the relations among religion, politics, and socioeconomic development in Zaire in the late 1970s and early 1980s.21

Yet, since then, no in-depth research has been published on this major African independent church in the post–Simon Kimbangu era. My book aims to fill this gap, providing historical data and offering new sociological and theological analyses of the church’s understanding and interpretation of the Bible, grounded in an insider’s knowledge of the religion and a native command of the African languages spoken by the members of this church. The two studies I published in France on the Kimbanguist Church in Central Africa and in the diaspora (now reference books for French-speaking researchers) offered new insights by analyzing contemporary Kimbanguism using the sociological perspective of the relationship between religion and ethnicity. I took as my starting point the Kimbanguist religion in order to understand its relation to ethnicity—not the other way around, as Balandier did. To accomplish this, I investigated the massive body of oral traditions, which had remained absolutely untapped by scholars, although it represents for the Kimbanguists a source of faith and wisdom as sacred as—and inseparable from—the scriptures.

The present book includes a new analysis, inspired by the American theologian Vincent Wimbush, who suggested that I focus more on the theological appropriation of the Bible by this church and include a comparative study with other African churches. In this book I show how the scriptures are read, understood, and appropriated by these churches, and how they use the Bible as a foundation to assign a history and a future role for African and Africana people. But my documentation of the processes of appropriation of the Bible by African-initiated churches in both colonial and postcolonial times remains mostly centered on Kimbanguism. I chose to keep building on my twenty-year knowledge of this church because it is the most important and famous African-initiated church today, and also because I have cultural and family ties with this field of research. My late father, Antoine Mokoko, was one of the first pastors of this church, and my mother, Joséphine Elo, is still a member of the clergy in the Congo-Brazzaville branch of the EJCSK (Église de Jésus Christ sur la terre par son envoyé spécial Simon Kimbangu). I thus offer an insider’s analysis of Kimbanguism; my major assets are a mastery of Congolese languages, which helps to decipher the hymns, speeches, and messages addressing believers, and an intimate knowledge of Congolese culture and the Kimbanguist religion. I observe from the inside, combining the findings of participant observation and semi-structured interviews with an analysis of inspired hymns and spiritual leaders’ speeches. These elements offer a rich potential for cross-disciplinary observation, at the junction of sociology, ethnology, history, Africana studies, and biblical studies. Indeed, the Kimbanguist reading of the Bible reveals a process of self-identification based on a critique of Africana people’s oppressed position throughout the world. How are African history and the history of enslavement and colonization by Europeans interpreted through this Afro-centered approach to the Christian scriptures? How is Blackness reinterpreted through the Kimbanguist reading of the Bible?

The answers offered in this book are developed in three distinct parts. The first exposes the background and context of the European Christian presence in Africa in order to offer a comparative analysis of African-initiated churches as phenomena of appropriation of the Bible and to discuss the role of Kimbanguism as a social movement. The second part is dedicated to an analysis of Kimbanguism and the Bible. It is especially focused on theological sources—the interpretive template of the biblical text and subtext that Kimbanguism offers. I show how the Bible is read, understood, and appropriated by Kimbanguists, and I investigate the particular role given to Simon Kimbangu in the Kimbanguist reinterpretation of scripture. Indeed, from being a special envoy of Jesus Christ to the Black people, to the embodiment of the Holy Trinity, Kimbangu’s presence and sacralization pervade the whole process of understanding the Bible, negotiating a new status for Blacks within and thanks to the sacred text, as well as healing practices—a crucial dimension in African Christianity. Finally, the third part of this book explores the messianic and millenarian dimensions of this African understanding of the Bible, delving into the complex relations the church has created and maintained with political leaders and exploring the beginning of the fulfillment of Kimbangu’s prophecy in the increasing presence of African American and African-descended people as sojourners and benefactors in the holy city of Nkamba.

A Note About Names

In Congolese tradition, last names are not family names, but the traditional names given to each person based on the circumstances of her or his birth, as a tribute to an ancestor, or to ward off evil (such as sudden infant death). This is completely different from the Western system of naming, in which the children of the same father and mother have the same last name. In the years after independence, if the family was Christian, a Christian name was added to the traditional name when the child was christened. Then, beginning in 1972, the policy of Zairianization—“authenticity”—made it compulsory for each citizen to choose an additional name in a local language, either to replace the Christian name or to serve as a surname in the European sense of the term. This is how the three sons of Kimbangu chose, respectively, the “Zairian” names Lukelo, Kiangani, and Kuntima. This is also why some of the books by Diangienda appear with “Joseph Diangienda” as the author’s name, while those written after Zairianization use “Diangienda Kuntima.” The grandchildren of Kimbangu were free to choose their own last names as they wanted; only some of the children of Dialungana have chosen “Kiangani” as a last name. There is further explanation in chapter 7 about Congolese naming traditions.

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