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Document Details :

Title: De dominicaanse missie in Congo
Subtitle: Van kolonisatie naar afrikanisering
Author(s): MILH, Anton , VANYSACKER, Dries
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 58    Issue: 1   Date: 2018   
Pages: 23-43
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.58.1.3278601

Abstract :
The Belgian Dominican mission in Congo has had an eventful history. During the eighty years between its start in 1912 and the involuntary pulling out of the last remnants in the 1990s, the various political regimes continually posed new challenges to the mission. In the early years, the Belgian Dominicans went along with the colonial narrative: they considered their work to be a ‘conquest’ in the (spiritual) realm. In doing so, they supported colonial structures and – indirectly – the exploitation of Congo and its peoples. This changed after the Second World War. The missionaries now specifically supported several educational projects which aimed to achieve the emancipation of the Congolese people, contrary to the will of the colonial authorities. Congolese independence in 1960 did not meet with great enthusiasm among the Dominican missionaries, but it would be wrong to assume any sustained resistance to it. Sometimes individual citizens, political groups or local authorities would regard the missionaries as remnants of the colonial era, even though the latter tried to emphasize the independence of the mission from any form of worldly authority. In 1964, existing tensions culminated in the Simba rebellion, which led to the murder of twenty-six Dominican friars and sisters. After the rebellion, the missionaries returned, be it only slowly and in smaller numbers. They were convinced that a ‘new style’ of mission was needed that aimed for a real Africanization of the church. Initially, relations with the Mobutu regime were fairly relaxed, but his policy of ‘Zaireanization’ (started in the early 1970s) posed many problems for the church in Congo. The political situation in the country which, to this day, remains unstable, has forced the Dominicans to keep searching for new ways to fulfil their mission.

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