Theses Doctoral

Kintwadi kia Bangunza: Simon Kimbangu in Belgian Congo

Sumah, Awo Yayra

This dissertation presents an original reconstruction of Kintwadi kia Bangunza, the movement of Simon Kimbangu in Belgian Congo, from the period 1921 to 1942. It interprets the movement ancestrally, arguing that Kimbangu and his initiates were spiritualists who worked to heal the dead and reverse the European occultism of the First World War. When the prophetic healers (bangunza) received the sick, they became mediators between the living and dead, performing rituals using Holy Spirit medicine to retrieve, reconcile with, ascend and avenge their ancestors.

This dissertation brings together a wide variety of sources in five languages, gathered from over a year of archival research as well as several months of anthropological fieldwork. It presents a feminist, interdisciplinary analysis of the transformation of Kintwadi from its beginning as an ancestral healing movement, into a revolt movement led by the ancestors and finally, to its institutionalization as various churches. This dissertation argues that how we read Kintwadi, provides a useful prism through which to consider the politics of decolonization in Africa today.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Mamdani, Mahmood
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 25, 2022