Death and the Invisible Powers

Death and the Invisible Powers

The World of Kongo Belief
Bockie, Simon
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/22/1993
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-20808-8
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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

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.

Author Bio

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.

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Table of Contents


ONE The Spirituality of a Communal People
Beginning with Community
The Kongo People
The Land of Manianga: Isolation and Rejection
Gender and Community Structure
The Cohesiveness of the Community
Communal Life as the Goal of Existence
The Clan
The Role of the Chief
The Flow of Living Power from the Ancestors
Family Relationships
The Individual
Tension between the Public and the Personal

TWO The Communal Response to Death and Misfortune
Death by Natural Causes
The Response of AIDS
Death Due to Kindoki
Present-Day Belief in Kindoki
Kindoki: The Unique Power to Do Good or Evil
Harmful Kindoki
The Cleansing of Kindoki
How the Cleansing Rite Was Conducted
Priests of Divine Science
Ngang’a Ngombo, the Searchers of Causes
Ngang’a Mbuki, the Healers
Training in the Science of Kinganga
A New Type of Priesthood: Kingunza
An Overview of Kindoki

THREE The Concept of Death
Death as an Opening to a Better or a Worse Life
Brief Visits to the Unknown (Near-Death Experiences)
Reaction of Survivors
Funeral Rites and Mourning
Christian Participation in Funeral Rituals
The Spirit’s Survival of Bodily Death
The Total Spiritual Community of Living and Dead