This article explores the history of Kongo female prophets in the colonial-era kingunza (prophetic) movement between 1921 and 1960 in the Lower Congo region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While much of the literature on the kingunza movement focuses on male prophets, especially Simon Kimbangu, I use multiple sources such as colonial reports, missionary correspondence, and oral interviews of Congolese themselves to show that women also were prominent. I examine particular roles, embodied actions (especially trembling), and deeds that defined a person as a prophet in the Kongo context. A focus on two major spheres of spiritual activity, premonition/divination and healing, reveals that some women were, from a Kongo perspective, considered to be prophets in their own right. This research suggests a need in studies of African religious movements for greater attention to embodiment, an emphasis on the diversity of activities that define religious expression, and refocusing on local prophets.


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pp. 317-346
Launched on MUSE
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