Christianity, Colonialism, and Custom from the Congo Free State to the Belgian Congo: A History of Kongolo, Katanga, 1885 – 1960

Loffman, Reuben Alexander (2011) Christianity, Colonialism, and Custom from the Congo Free State to the Belgian Congo: A History of Kongolo, Katanga, 1885 – 1960. PhD thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the history of Kongolo, a territory in northern Katanga. It borrows from a method used particularly in Zimbabwean and Kenyan studies, namely the local study. Combining life histories with a range of archival sources, the dissertation offers a situated history of the local state in Congo. Specifically, it examines how Belgian colonialists were received by African communities from the inception of the Congo Free State (CFS) in 1885 until the end of the Belgian Congo in 1960. It analyses the encounter of big business, missions and the state with local religious and political institutions, deconstructing many of the gross assertions made about Belgian imperialism in the wider literature. In particular, the dissertation dispels the pervasive illusion of the almighty Bula Matari state. Bula Matari is a Kikongo phrase meaning ‘breaker of rocks’ and was first used by Africans to describe the activities of the explorer Henry Stanley in 1879. Henceforth, Belgian administrators appropriated the label to project the idea that their rule was both powerful and consistent over space and time. The misconception of the Bula Matari state was later used by political scientists to explain why the withdrawal of formal colonialism from the Congo was such a tumultuous affair. It has been argued that the turmoil that swept through the Congo after 1960 was caused by the shock of total colonialism’ being replaced by ‘total independence.’ But this thesis suggests there was never any such thing as total colonialism in the Belgian Congo. Instead, different African social categories and communities had different relationships with the European administration and, in the early 1960s, some fought to preserve their gains while others battled to end the last vestiges of colonialism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Somewhere Over the Rainbow: African Agency in the Lualaba River Valley under the Congo Free State, 1885–1905, In the Shadow of the Tree Sultans: African Elites and the Shaping of the Early Colonial State on the Katangan Frontier, 1906–1917, Instituting Colonialism on the Katangan Frontier: Early Belgian Experiments with Indirect Rule in Kongolo, 1918–1931, Raiding the Frontier: Colonial Officials, their ‘Science’ and the Limits of State Expansion in Kongolo, 1932–1943, A Divided House? Kongolo during the Long, Post War Decade, 1944–1956, ‘The Politics of Suicide’: Political Tribalism and the End of Belgian Rule in Kongolo, 1957–1960
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Divisions: Africana
Afro-Christiana
Depositing User: JHI Africa
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2014 12:44
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2017 11:53
URI: http://thesisbank.jhia.ac.ke/id/eprint/5

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