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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Aesthetics and Politics of Violence in Central Africa
Author:MacGaffey, Wyatt
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies
Geographic terms:Central Africa
Congo (Democratic Republic of)
traditional rulers
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The BaKongo and other Central African peoples understand the place of violence in their lives in ways that resist translation into English because they seem to be both 'real' and 'imaginary'. In the 19th century, imagined violence was represented in the rituals of chiefs and in the complex forms of 'minkisi', fabricated objects which could be invoked to inflict retribution on others. In recent years, vividly imagined violence has been central to the popular understanding of national politics, in Congo/Zaire as in many other African countries; it can in fact be regarded as a theory of political life, and compared as such with Western theories concerning the social ordering of violence. This paper draws upon indigenous Kikongo texts that describe chiefship and 'nkondi' ('hunters', which hunted down and punished witches, thieves, adulterers, treaty breakers and other wrongdoers) in the 19th century, before discussing the place of violence in modern African political thought. Attention is paid, amongst others, to the case of president Mobutu, who appealed to traditional values in 1965, when he deliberately entrapped four well-known politicians into a plot against him and then publicly executed them. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.