Introduction: Gesture and Power
1. The province that I am referring to as the Lower Congo is currently known as
Bas- Congo, and it was also referred to as Bas- Zaire during the presidency of
Mobutu Sese Seko.
2. Léon- Georges Morel Report, “Ministère des Affaires Étrangères (Archives Afri-
caines), Brussels, Belgium (aimo),” 1634/9191b, unnumbered document, pages
2– 4.
3. Throughout the book, I am mostly using pseudonyms for my interlocutors. It was
very important to protect people’s identities, especially when discussing political
animation under Mobutu and Bundu dia Kongo. In a few instances I have
indicated where a person’s real name is being used. Following the customs in the
Congo, I use honorific terms such as Mama or Ma for women and Tata for men.
4. In this book, I use the terms religion and spirituality interchangeably. In academic
circles, the term religion often connotes more institutionalized organizations with
leadership and set rituals, while spirituality is more commonly used to describe
individual, subjective experiences with the divine (Zinnbauer et al., 1997, 551).
In my book, the social movements that I describe often began with individual
experiences and became larger movements and institutionalized churches, so the
boundary between religion and spirituality is not clearly defined. I thus use both
terms to describe human interactions with the supernatural realm.
5. By Holy Spirit, I am referring to the third aspect of the Holy Trinity that com-
prises the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit. The varied
European missions that came to evangelize the Lower Congo at the end of the
nineteenth century translated this concept into Kikongo in different ways. The
British Baptist Missionary Society missionaries preferred mwanda a’vedila (where
mwanda means pure and vedila means breath) while Swedish Svenska Missions-
Forbundet missionaries (Mission Covenant Church) preferred mpeve ya nlongo
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