Death and the Invisible Powers: The World of Kongo Belief

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"[Bockie’s] description of Kongo culture is vivid, beautifully clear, and absolutely authentic, as only a native could make it.... I don’t know of anything of its kind that is both as good, ethnographically, and as readable."—Wyatt MacGaffey

"Simon Bockie has written an engaging, often personal account of the views and behaviors surrounding death in his own society, the Kongo of Lower Zaire, northern Angola, and the Congo." —Cahiers d’Etudes africaines

"... excellent book of Kongo religious life and thought... " —Religion

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Overview

"[Bockie’s] description of Kongo culture is vivid, beautifully clear, and absolutely authentic, as only a native could make it.... I don’t know of anything of its kind that is both as good, ethnographically, and as readable."—Wyatt MacGaffey

"Simon Bockie has written an engaging, often personal account of the views and behaviors surrounding death in his own society, the Kongo of Lower Zaire, northern Angola, and the Congo." —Cahiers d’Etudes africaines

"... excellent book of Kongo religious life and thought... " —Religion

"It is a book that is remarkably well written, both for its readability and for its explanatory value.... the book is a superb starting place for understanding Kongo religion, and will work as an introduction to African religion in general as well."—International Journal of African Historical Studies

"... an excellent introduction for anyone seeking to understand Kongo traditional culture and thought." —Oshun

Rich in anecdote and case histories, 'Death and the Invisible Powers is a personal account of the spiritual life of the Kongo people. It describes the ancient traditions that nourish a culture whose name symbolizes the heart of Central Africa.

Indiana University Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253315649
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Pages: 176
  • Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

SIMON BROCKIE was born in Banza-Lele village, Kivunda District, in the Manianga area of Lower Zaire. He holds a Ph.D. in History and Phenomenology of Religion from the Graduate Theological Union and is a government documents librarian at the University of California, Berkeley.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Spirituality of a Communal People 1
Beginning with Community 1
The Kongo People 2
The Land of Manianga: Isolation and Rejection 2
Gender and Community Structure 5
The Cohesiveness of the Community 7
Communal Life as the Goal of Existence 10
The Clan 11
The Role of the Chief 16
The Flow of Living Power from the Ancestors 18
Family Relationships 19
Seniority 22
Marriage 23
The Individual 31
Tension between the Public and the Personal 33
2 The Communal Response to Death and Misfortune 36
Death by Natural Causes 36
The Response to AIDS 38
Death Due to Kindoki 40
Present-Day Belief in Kindoki 41
Kindoki: The Unique Power to Do Good or Evil 43
Harmful Kindoki 45
The Cleansing of Kindoki 57
How the Cleansing Rite Was Conducted 61
Priests of Divine Science 66
Ngang'a Ngombo, the Searchers of Causes 67
Ngang'a Mbuki, the Healers 69
Training in the Science of Kinganga 71
A New Type of Priesthood: Kingunza 76
An Overview of Kindoki 82
3 The Concept of Death 83
Death as an Opening to a Better or a Worse Life 83
Brief Visits to the Unknown (Near-Death Experiences) 86
Reaction of Survivors 95
Leave-Taking 98
Funeral Rites and Mourning 99
Christian Participation in Funeral Rituals 126
The Spirit's Survival of Bodily Death 128
The Total Spiritual Community of Living and Dead 131
4 God 134
Epilogue. Kongo Belief in Its Contemporary Setting 138
Appendix. Kikongo Texts 141
Notes 146
Selected Bibliography 152
Index 156
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