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MUKOMBOZI AND THE MONGANGA: THE VIOLENCE OF HEALING IN THE 1944 KITAWALIST UPRISING

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2015

Abstract

This article investigates the fraught relationship between violence and healing in Central African history. Looking at the case study of one of the largest uprisings in the colonial history of Congo – the Lobutu–Masisi Kitawalist uprising of 1944 – the article asks how the theories of power that animated the uprising might help better illuminate the nature and role of violence not only in the uprising itself but in the broader history of the region. Drawing attention to the centrality of discourses that relate to the moral and immoral use of disembodied spiritual power (puissance/nguvu/force) in the uprising, the article evokes critical questions about the deeper history of such discourses and the imaginaries and choreographies of violence that accompanied them. Thinking about violence in this way not only breaks down imagined lines between productive and destructive/legitimate and illegitimate violence by highlighting that such distinctions are always contentious and negotiated, but also demonstrates that the theories of power animating such negotiations must be understood not as tangential to the larger anti-colonial political struggle of Bushiri and his followers, but as central to that struggle. Moreover, it paves the way towards thinking about how these same theories of power might animate negotiations of legitimacy in more recent violent contexts in Eastern Congo.

Résumé

Cet article examine la relation malaisée entre la violence et la guérison dans l’histoire de l’Afrique centrale. À travers l’étude de cas de l’un des plus grands soulèvements de l’histoire coloniale du Congo, la révolte kitawaliste de Lubutu-Masisi de 1944, l’article s’interroge sur la manière dont les théories du pouvoir qui ont animé la révolte pourraient aider à mieux mettre en lumière la nature et le rôle de la violence non seulement dans la révolte elle-même, mais aussi dans l’histoire plus large de la région. Attirant l’attention sur la centralité de discours se rapportant à l’utilisation morale et immorale du pouvoir spirituel désincarné (puissance/nguvu/force) dans la révolte, l’article évoque des questions essentielles sur l’histoire plus profonde de tels discours et sur les imaginaires et les chorégraphies de violence qui les ont accompagnés. Cette manière de penser la violence non seulement élimine les lignes de démarcation imaginées entre violence productive et destructive/légitime et illégitime en soulignant le fait que ces distinctions sont toujours controversées et négociées, mais aussi démontre qu’il faut comprendre les théories du pouvoir qui animent ces négociations non pas comme tangentielles à la lutte politique anticoloniale plus large de Bushiri et de ses disciples, mais au centre de cette lutte. De surcroît, elle ouvre la voie à une réflexion sur la manière dont ces mêmes théories du pouvoir pourraient animer des négociations de légitimité dans des contextes violents plus récents dans l'Est du Congo.

Type
Histories of violence
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2015 

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References

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