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Title: Christianity, colonialism, and custom from the Congo Free State to the Belgian Congo : a history of Kongolo, Katanga, 1885-1960
Author: Loffman, Reuben Alexander
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2011
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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 colonialisms 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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available