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The Apocalyptic Interlude: Revealing Death in Kinshasa

  • Filip De Boeck

Temporality in contemporary Kinshasa is of a very specific eschatological kind and takes its point of departure in the Bible, and more particularly in the Book of Revelation, which has become an omnipresent point of reference in Kinshasa's collective imagination. The lived-in time of everyday life in Kinshasa is projected against the canvas of the completion of everything, a completion which will be brought about by God. As such, the Book of Revelation is not only about doom and destruction, it is essentially also a book of hope. Yet the popular understanding of the Apocalypse very much centers on the omnipotent presence of evil. This article focuses on the impact of millennialism on the Congolese experience, in which daily reality is constantly translated into mythical and prophetic terms as apocalyptic interlude.


Le concept de temporalité dans le Kinshasa d'aujourd'hui est d'une espèce eschatologique bien particulière et trouve son origine dans la Bible, plus précisément dans le livre des Révélations, qui est devenu un point de référence omniprésent dans l'imagination collective des habitants de Kinshasa. Le temps vécu de la vie quotidienne à Kinshasa est comparé au canevas de l'achèvement ultime, un achièvement qui sera accompli par Dieu. En tant que tel, le livre des Révélations ne se concentre pas seulement sur la fatalité et la destruction mais c'est essentiellement un livre d'espérance. Et pourtant, la conception populaire de l'apocalypse tourne principalement autour de la notion du mal. Cet article se concentre sur l'impact du millénarisme sur l'expérience congolaise, dans laquelle la réalité quotidienne se traduit constamment en termes mythiques et prophétiques comme interlude prophétique.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
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