The Belgian Congo (French: Congo belge, pronounced [kɔ̃ɡo bɛlʒ]; Dutch: Belgisch-Congo) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960. Protestant missionaries in the Congo challenged the privileges granted to Catholic institutions by appealing to religious freedom guarantees in colonial and international law. Although CPC affiliates tried to distance themselves from the Jehovah's Witnesses, they knew that Catholic authorities framed this heterodox movement as simply an iteration of Protestantism. The U.S. government estimates the total population is 75.5 million (July 2013 estimate). According to the traditional religion of the Bakongo, the creator of the universe, called Nzambe, lives above a … Laisser prier ce mouvement, c'est laisser s'organiser ce mouvement hostile, c'est permettre la propaganda, c'est livrer tout le pays au Kibangisme.” Quoted in Augustin Bita Lihun Nzundu, Missions Catholiques et Protestantes Face Au Colonialisme et Aux Aspirations Du Peuple Autochtone à l'autonomie et à l'indépendance Politique Au Congo Belge (1908–1960): Effort de Synthèse (Roma: Pontificia Università gregoriana, 2013), 421. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgian-Congo. First, the post-colonial political leaders of Congo and Rwanda continued the Belgian colonial policies. DR Congo - Religion. 63 Emory Ross to Governor General, 18 July 1932, box 289, IMC-CBMS, SOAS. 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, https://doi.org/10.1353/cch.2016.0013; and Klose, Fabian, ed., The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Historians studying the same dynamic in the British colony of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) have found that some local chiefs chose to allow one (and only one) Christian mission in order to foster cultural cohesion and, ultimately, to facilitate anti-colonial nation-building within the territories they governed. 65 Memorandum to the Colonial Minister (English translation), 27 Apr. Religion. It served to classify and control indigenous practices, traditions, and peoples; ranked human societies on a hierarchical scale from “savage” to “civilized”; and rationalized the racial hierarchies and disciplinary violence of European imperialism.Footnote 50 Mwana Lesa's anti-witchcraft crusade was a product and a symptom of colonial violence. 16 U.S. Senate, Article 6 of the General Act of the Berlin Conference, 26 Feb. 1885, S. Misc. Catholic cruelties “menace[d] the peace and welfare of Congo Belge,” they charged, and were bound to “diminish the respect for the government and its laws and its authority in the minds of the Natives.” It was not Protestants, they argued, but their persecution by Catholics that would undermine the legitimacy of Belgian rule.Footnote 4, This outcry was neither the first nor the best-known dispute between Protestant missionaries and the colonial government in the Congo. Kimbaguist, Muslim, and other religion are each 10 percent. Catholic missionaries bolstered this image with an expanding network of colonial schools that taught the virtues of piety and submission to authority. During this twelve-year period, there was a significant amount of unrest in the Belgian Congo. The presiding judge at his trial charged that Kimbangu had labeled “the Whites, your benefactors, as abominable enemies” and initiated “an uprising against the colonial government.” Against the wishes of Governor-General Maurice Lippens, but in keeping with Protestant missionary requests, the Belgian monarch commuted Kimbangu's sentence to life in prison in Elisabethville, where he died three decades later. So they outsourced the task to Leopold, who used personal diplomacy to convince the European powers to grant him control of a large portion of the Congo basin. 39 Mokoko Gampiot and Coquet-Mokoko, Kimbanguism, 72–74. For long the Congo appeared to be a peaceful island untouched by African anti-colonialism. Minors are suggested to get out from this blog due to sensitive issues and graphic contents.The aim of this blog is to inform and educate readers about current events, history and recent happenings around the world. The involvement of the Belgian Congo (the modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo) in World War II began with the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940. Catholic writers in the Belgian and colonial press associated Protestant missionaries, or Protestantism in general, with anti-colonial revolt. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Close this message to accept cookies or find out how to manage your cookie settings. Africans worked the mines and plantations as indentured labourers on four- to seven-year contracts, in accordance with a law passed in Belgium in 1922. 22 Kabongo-Mbaya, L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre, 25. Five women who were taken from their families as children in Belgian Congo and placed in a religious mission run by Catholic nuns have filed a lawsuit seeking reparations from Belgium. 45 “Missions in Belgian, French, and Portuguese Colonies, IMC Paper ‘A,’” box 3, folder 6, IMC Papers, MRL, UTS. An international contingent of Protestant missionaries was integral to how Belgium's King Léopold II justified his purportedly humanitarian interests in creating the Congo Free State. See Bennett, Bruce S. and Boloaane, Maitseo, “The BaKhurutshe Anglicans of Tonota Religious Persecution in the Bechuanaland,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 43, 2 (2010): 319–40Google Scholar. In keeping with Catholic views of libre examen, he held that Protestants could not have the same privileges as the Catholic missions because they posed a political threat. Many Congolese villagers at first avoided the mission schools because they had a religious agenda that threatened to undermine their cultural values and beliefs. "isLogged": "0", Ethnonymie. See Mamdani, Mahmood, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)Google Scholar; Gordon, David, “Owners of the Land and Lunda Lords: Colonial Chiefs in the Borderlands of Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 34, 2 (2001): 315–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar, https://doi.org/10.2307/3097484. The Belgian Congo (French: Congo Belge, Dutch: Belgisch-Congo [lower-alpha 1]) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa between 1908 and 1960 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).. Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. In the Belgian Congo after 1908, more structural forms of colonial violence remained a key issue marking religious experiences. Yet by the 1950s and 1960s, many missionaries actively supported anti-colonial movements around the world. In the colonial period, Belgian missionaries established Catholic seminaries in the villages of Lemfu and Mayidi and built mission churches and schools throughout Lower Congo. The government paid the salaries of its doctors and nurses and granted it permission to build new clinics and hospitals, even in locales already serviced by Protestant institutions.Footnote 55 Meanwhile, a newly ambitious program of “Belgicization” focused on educational reforms in the “national” schools, which were invariably Catholic. 37 “L'Avenir Colonial, dans un article … écrit que le Kimbanguisme n'est autre que le garvéyisme ou le movement hostile surtout aux Belges. The colony's daily, L'Avenir Colonial Belge, initially described Mwana Lesa as a convert to Protestantism “whose murders were the result of religious fanaticism.” Beginning with its original revolt against Rome, Protestantism led to chaos in both religious and political spheres. For more on the expansion of Catholic privileges in this period, see Kabongo-Mbaya, L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre, 42–43. Like abolitionism and Christian missions, the humanitarian ideal of religious freedom could serve as a benevolent rationale for colonialism. They stressed their support for Belgium while also reiterating the long-term goal of native church leadership. The official Belgian attitude was paternalism: Africans were to be cared for and trained as if they were children. After the war, these missionary ideals and interests helped shape the new global order that emerged through the League of Nations and the treaties negotiated at Versailles in 1919. 74 Conseil Protestant du Congo, “Minutes- Meeting 15, Léopoldville” (22 Jan. 1937), CPC Records, Yale. Commenting on a series of letters exchanged between a Protestant pastor and a Jesuit priest, the Belgian Protestant newspaper Paix et Liberté explained, with reference to Galileo, that libre examen was necessary for scientific thought and modernization. In response to Protestant critiques, Belgian officials asserted their loyalty to the principles of international law, including the freedom of religion, even as they built a structure that favored the Catholic Church. Belgiumball (kinda) Enemies. On Catholic missions in the Congo, see Lokando, Richard Dane, Le Saint-Siège et l’État Indépendant Du Congo (1885–1908): L'organisation Des Missions Catholiques (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2016)Google Scholar. Medal chiefs who used their authority to exclude unwanted missions may have been guarding against new colonial incursions, protecting their own power, or perhaps both. Any misguided “Negro prophetess” could simply “open her Bible and show a picture representing little David slaying the giant Goliath.”Footnote 51 Belgian missionary G. Dufonteney similarly warned that Protestants fomented a “spirit of pride and independence,” and “this independent spirit born of libre examen results in a rebellious mentality [une mentalité de révolte] among the primitives turned against all authority whether religious or political.”Footnote 52 This was a Catholic view of church and state suffused in the racist hierarchies of empire. Catholic critics attributed these problems to Protestant theology and its challenge to external authority. First to arrive was a French order, the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, better known as the White Fathers, which sent ten missionaries to Central Africa in 1878. The initial harmony between Protestants, Catholics, and Léopold's regime quickly evaporated. 72 Kasongo, Michael, History of the Methodist Church in the Central Congo (Lanham: University Press of America, 1998), 50–55Google Scholar. Around the world, many Protestant missionaries supported indigenous appeals for greater leadership roles both in church and state. The Belgian Congo (French: Congo Belge, Dutch: Belgisch-Congo [lower-alpha 1]) was a Belgian colony in Central Africa between 1908 and 1960 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).. Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. And finally, indigenous Congolese prophets called out the injustices and brutality of colonialism. Another provision granted special protections to “all religious, scientific, philanthropic establishments or enterprises” that aimed “to instruct the inhabitants and make them understand and appreciate the advantages of civilization.”Footnote 16 Thus the Berlin Act identified Christian missions and “religious worship” with an imperial project that declared “religious freedom” as proof of its own benevolence. "languageSwitch": true In the 1890s, some U.S. and British missionaries went public on what they described as atrocities in the Congo Free State. Yes No Search in all … When you hear of the word “darkness”, what do you think of? In February 1931, the Congo Protestant Council (CPC) formed a committee to investigate the topic of “Religious Freedom, Native Liberty, and Roman Catholic Aggression.” These missionaries were diverse in their theological commitments, denominational affiliations, and national origins. The Importance Of Religion In Central Africa 1475 Words | 6 Pages. DR Congo - Religion. Malgré la capitulation de la Belgique, le Congo resta dans le conflit aux côtés des Alliés, et fut administré par le gouvernement belge en exil, et fournit des matières premières indispensables, notamment de l'or et de l'uranium, à la Grande-Bretagne et au… In the 1880s, as he sought to secure control against competing interests from France and Portugal, the king cultivated support from missionaries who were to engage in the work of “civilizing” Africans and ending the slave trade. Both Protestant and Catholic missions in the Belgian Congo were part and parcel of the imperial enterprise. In Belgian Congo, they helped to spread Christianity but clashed with missionaries over authority and respectability. As they struggled to serve and to save the people of the Congo, these missionaries helped formulate the “civilizing” mission and the humanitarian policies—against slavery, for free trade, and for religious liberty—that more often bolstered than challenged imperial regimes.Footnote 9. In 1920 Pope Benedict XV had reiterated instructions, first promulgated in 1880, that missions were to avoid meddling “in any kind of political or temporal interests” and “banish any idea” among colonized populations “paving the way to a political awareness of their nationhood.” The Catholic missions were advised to quell any “political” activity, a term placed here in opposition to the “religious” and associated entirely with anti-colonial agitation. In strictly religious matters, he insisted, the Belgian government did not play favorites. 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The most scathing attack came in 1929 from the fiery Jesuit priest Jean-Félix de Hemptinne, who would become Apostolic Vicar of the Katanga province in 1932. Even in rejecting these demands, government officials constantly stressed their fidelity to the ideal of religious freedom and other principles of international law. Belgium's right to take over the Congo and the successive steps which have led up to the annexation will be found treated under sections II and VII. Adherents of Roman Catholicism account for about one-third of the country’s Christians. 36 Mokoko Gampiot and Coquet-Mokoko, Kimbanguism, 28, 37–40. 6 Kabongo-Mbaya, Philippe B., L’Église Du Christ Au Zaïre: Formation et Adaptation d'un Protestantisme En Situation de Dictature (Paris: Karthala, 1992)Google Scholar. The Protestant community includes members of the Evangelical Church of the Congo. Render date: 2020-12-14T14:32:45.043Z Friends. Rather, they wanted to ensure that they were free to “give religious instruction” in areas controlled by the rubber concessionaires. Total loading time: 0.706 Libre examen was a threat because it challenged the proper relationship between church and state, that is, the role of the unified Catholic Church in supporting a unified state. The government was not following its own stated policies of religious neutrality; indeed it was allowing priests to meddle in the affairs of the state. Despite Belgium's surrender, the Congo remained in the conflict on the Allied side, administered by the Belgian government in exile.. On these broader colonial discourses, see Tiffany Hale, “Hostiles and Friendlies: Memory, U.S. Institutions, and the 1890 Ghost Dance,” PhD diss., Yale University, 2017. Colonial officials viewed Kimbanguism as part of a continent-wide revolt against Europeans; in Catholic eyes it proved how dangerous Protestant influence could be. 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