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The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama

The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama: Religion, Media and Gender in Kinshasa

Katrien Pype
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 348
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  • Book Info
    The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama
    Book Description:

    How religion, gender, and urban sociality are expressed in and mediated via television drama in Kinshasa is the focus of this ethnographic study. Influenced by Nigerian films and intimately related to the emergence of a charismatic Christian scene, these teleserials integrate melodrama, conversion narratives, Christian songs, sermons, testimonies, and deliverance rituals to produce commentaries on what it means to be an inhabitant of Kinshasa.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-495-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xv)
  5. On Language
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The First Episode
    (pp. 1-26)

    This book is about the production of Pentecostal¹ television fiction in contemporary Kinshasa. Kinois people (inhabitants of Kinshasa) refer to the TV dramas astélédramatiques, théâtre populaire,andmaboke.² The title of the book can be read on two levels. On the one hand, it is an ethnography of the ways in which Pentecostal concepts and practices are presented to the urban audience in the space of television fiction and beyond (in TV talk shows discussing the teleserials, in church settings, in conversations among Christians). I will show how the Pentecostal message is negotiated in the religious and cultural spaces...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Cursing the City: The Ethnographic Field and the Pentecostal Imagination
    (pp. 27-61)

    The Cinarc serialEkonda, The Cursed Neighborhood,filmed and broadcast in 2002 and spanning ten episodes, offers a good introduction to how born-again Christians imagine Kinshasa. The plot is set in motion when, somewhere in an unidentified township in the city, an impoverished couple, Fataki and his wife, consult a magician to obtain money. The ritual specialist triggers a set of occult transformations that enables the couple to become wealthy. In exchange for material gain, Fataki and his wife agree to become servants of the Devil, which means they have to sacrifice souls in their surroundings. This mission can only...

  8. CHAPTER 3 New Fathers and New Names: Social Dynamics in an Evangelizing Acting Group
    (pp. 62-99)

    Bob Kabesa (age twenty-two), of Luba ethnic origin but born and raised in Kinshasa, told me how he first met Clovis Ikala and Bienvenu Toukebana, the two leading men of the Cinarc troupe. Bob was staying with his eldest brother because their father had remarried and his stepmother refused to feed and shelter children of her husband’s first marriage. Bob’s sister-in-law happened to be Bienvenu’s maternal aunt. Bienvenu paid a visit to this house, and the Cinarc leader impressed Bob. At the time, Bob felt unwelcome in his brother’s house; he was also having difficulty paying his tuition and experiencing...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Variations on Divine Afflatus: Artistic Inspiration, Special Effects, and Sermons
    (pp. 100-129)

    The Cinarc troupe films with a small digital camera owned by the channel RTG@. Each morning of a day of filming, one of the actors is sent to the channel’s headquarters, located in the city center, to fetch the filming equipment. One Monday afternoon in January 2005, the actors were waiting as usual for the camera to arrive when I parked my car outside the compound where Bienvenu was living. It was already 4 p.m., and the troupe had not yet begun filming. As occurred frequently, Jef had only shown up around noon; then, claiming that he had no money...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Mimesis in Motion: Embodied Experiences of Performers and Spectators
    (pp. 130-167)

    It was December 2004. The serialThe Open Tombhad just begun, and Anne was already, once again, the victim of her role. She was at the time starring as a witch in the role of an adulterous woman who had made the trip from Mbuyi-Mayi to Kinshasa. There, her character, Theresia, started an affair with Makubakuba, her best friend’s husband, and consulted aféticheurto kill Maman Jeanne, her best friend. As a result of the invisible law of exchange with the occult (implying that the one who receives something from the occult world becomes a witch in turn),...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Right Road: Moral Movements, Confessions, and the Christian Subject
    (pp. 168-196)

    This chapter explores issues such as the production of Christian selves and the role of confessions and deliverance rituals therein, and also the ways in which these are represented in the Pentecostal melodrama. Pentecostal churches promote an array of techniques of the self (Foucault 1988)¹ that produce “subjects of God.” The techniques of the self impact personal public appearance, body care, thoughts, and self-perception (see Bayart 1998; Marshall-Fratani and Péclard 2002: 9). These techniques require considerable investment from the person involved, which at first glance gives the impression of emphasizing the conscience and agency of subjects with their own rights,...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Opening Up the Country: Christian Popular Culture, Generation Trouble, and Time
    (pp. 197-231)

    The previous chapters discussed the mediating role of rituals and the positionality of the body in the context of artistic performances. I touched briefly on the healing role of narrative when analyzing the transformative power of confessions in the churches. This chapter moves back into the zone of popular culture, itself a liminal space, in which alternative approaches to reality can be expressed. Both an Arestotelian and Turnerian perspective emphasize the cathartic role of narrative. The healing power of the public and of articulation of personal suffering, sometimes mass-mediated, has been amply documented elsewhere in Africa, especially in postwar zones...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Marriage Comes from God: Negotiating Matrimony and Urban Sexuality (Part I)
    (pp. 232-257)

    In the TV serials, young Christians reflect not only on the state and intergenerational relationships but also on marriage and sexuality. The choice of marriage partners, erotic dreams, informal polygamy, and girls’ attire are main themes of themaboke.In this chapter, I focus on discourse on and representations of arranged marriage, incest (ekobo), polygamy, and adultery (bothkindumba), reserving my discussion of the various masculinities and femininities for the next chapter. Though other social phenomena such as formal polygamy, levirate, homosexuality, and AIDS also appear thematically in themaboke,these topics do not contribute to the serials’ plots; such...

  14. CHAPTER 9 The Danger of Sex: Negotiating Matrimony and Urban Sexuality (Part II)
    (pp. 258-290)

    For Teresa de Lauretis, the definition and prescription of the ideal masculinities and femininities in a society are the outcome of semiotic work: meanings and values of “Man” and “Woman” emerge from signs and their interpretations. Gender is produced exactly in the act of representing. Or, to quote de Lauretis (1984: 9): “The representation falls together with presentation.” In the construction and interpretation of signs, meanings and values of “manhood” and “womanhood” are shaped, and individual subjectivities are produced. This semiotic work takes place through a wide range of social and cultural technologies. Cinema, de Lauretis’s main field of research,...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Closure, Subplots, and Cliffhanger
    (pp. 291-298)

    As discussed throughout this book, in the last few years, Kinshasa’s inhabitants have observed a gradual increase in the number of local television stations. Many of these channels are privately owned by Pentecostal pastors or by communities of born-again Christians. This dominance of Pentecostal Christianity in the city’s media world contributes to the hegemony of this variety of Christianity in Kinshasa.

    Although Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity has made a significant headway in Kinshasa’s overall public sphere, there is some local disapproval of the workings and spread of the declared apocalyptic principles. Adversaries, who can be found among politicians, academics, and members of...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-315)
  17. Index
    (pp. 316-331)