“The Devil is in the Rumba Text.” Commenting on Digital Depth
One Sunday at around noon one day in 2014, Maman Thérèse (a fictive name) arrived in the compound where I live when I carry out fieldwork. She often dropped by to greet my host mother. That day, I noticed that she was carrying a DVD, which, as I learned, she had received from one of her girlfriends at church. She wanted to hear my host brother’s opinion about the content. This married woman with four children is in her late thirties and works as a nanny in the school that one of her daughters attends. Since I first met her in 2003, I have always known her to visit the Church of the Awakening (a type of Pentecostal-charismatic church). With a smile that seemed to beg for apologies, Maman Thérèse told me that the DVD contained a clip in which some of Fally Ipupa’s music video clips—he is one of Congo’s most successful rumba musicians—are interpreted as “genre Illuminati,” a secret society in the imagination of Kinois (inhabitants of Kinshasa) intimately connected with the world of Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. I had already noticed various posts on my Congolese friends’ Facebook walls about the possible connections between Congolese musicians and this secret society. Now I was shown that these accusations also circulate on other media carriers and among people who do not remediate such messages on their Facebook accounts.
Acknowledgements The data for this chapter have been collected during field visits in Kinshasa, financed by a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (PIOF-GA-2009-252331) and an ERC-Runner Up Budget (FWO G.A005.14N) and supported by funding from the Research Council of Norway (FRIPRO program, “New Media Practices in a Changing Africa”). I am grateful to all institutions for financing these trips. In addition, my gratitude goes to the research participants and interlocutors who have helped me to make sense of these digital texts. Some initial ideas of this chapter have been presented at the “Religion as Creativity” symposium organized by James Bielo and John Cinnamon 2–3 October 2015, Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), where fellow participants’ comments have been very inspiring. Isabelle de Rezende has done the language editing.
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