Katrien Pype's chapter on "Nzete Ekauka versus the Catholic Church. Religious Competition, Media Ban and The Virgin Mary in Contemporary Kinshasa." has been published in Religion, Media and Marginality in Modern Africa, eds. F. Becker, J. Cabrita and M. Rodet, Cambridge African Studies Series, Ohio University Press, 2018, pp. 202-228.
Since 1986, Brother Raphael Minga Kwete has been receiving divine messages from the Virgin Mary, Jesus, the saints, as well as Catholic leaders such as Padre Pio and Francis of Assisi in his compound commonly known as "Nzete Ekauka" ("the dessicated tree"). During the 1990s, this compound was the arena of fervent prayer gatherings where Catholic clergy, intellectuals, politicians, and even figures of the local music scene could be seen praying. Nowadays, the compound is nearly empty. The exodus started in the early 2000s, and today only a few dozen people (mainly women) continue to attend daily prayers, donate money, and spread the Virgin’s messages more widely. An informal media ban was issued by the Catholic Church in the early 2000s. The Nzete case-study will situate media presence, production, and aesthetics within a larger field of competition between orthodox Catholicism and more popular forms of engagement with Catholic spirits. In addition, the idea of the Virgin Mary as a spirit who addresses the Congolese through the prophet, draws our attention to the transformations urban religiosity has undergone in the late postcolonial era, and to the enduring role of Catholic clergy in urban Africa.