Title: Congo Narratives: Romanticism in Film and Political Theory
In this presentation, two contemporary representations of DR-Congo, drawn from the documentaries Makala (2014) by Congolese director Carolle Maloba wa Maloba and Makala (2017) by French director Emmanuel Gras, are brought into conversation with postcolonial historical narratives on two non-violent religious movements in Belgian Congo: the Congo Reform Campaign and the prophet movement of Simon Kimbangu. These modes of storytelling – historical narrative and filmic narrative fiction – I argue, following postcolonial critic David Scott, can be linked in their reading practices to Romanticism, the 18th and 19th century intellectual movement preoccupied with the figure of the hero and his passions, and with “narratives of overcoming” (Scott, 2014). Yet what happens when human agency is narrated outside the frames of heroism and resistance?” Contrasting the ‘heroic’ with the ‘ordinary’ in the two documentaries and histories, I discuss the diverse visions of Congo that Maloba wa Maloba and Kimbanguist movement can offer us. Katangese and Kongolese discourses emerge as the ordinary, yet invaluable perspectives that intervene on and change our understanding of Congo’s present and past.