Though much has been written about Kitawala, a Central African offshoot of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the Belgian Congo, little has been produced on the colonial government’s post-war policy towards the religious movement. Kitawala was a popular religious movement that frequently stood in tension with established power figures, African and European alike, because its pastors prophesied a millennial event at which foreign rule and exploitation would end. Drawing on the Belgian colonial record, this thesis elucidates the ways in which colonial Kitawala policy changed significantly in the 1950s in line with post-war developmental colonialism that sought to expand imperial resources while also re-legitimising colonial rule. In light of anti-colonial, nationalist movements emerging across the Africa, colonial officials hoped to co-opt the majority of Kitawalists with a wide range of development programs, while repressing Kitawalists who remained implacable critics of Belgian rule.
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Thesis advisor: Kühn, Thomas
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