Religious Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo

by Roger Alfani (Author)
©2019 Monographs XX, 214 Pages
Series: Religion and Society in Africa, Volume 4


Religious Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo analyzes the contributions of three churches at both the leadership and the grassroots levels to conflict transformation in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. While states have long been considered main actors in addressing domestic conflicts, this book demonstrates that religious actors can play a significant role in peacebuilding efforts. In addition, rather than focusing exclusively on top-down approaches to conflict resolution, Religious Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo incorporates viewpoints from both leaders of the Catholic, 3ème Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique and Arche de l’Alliance in Goma and grassroots members of these three churches.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Religious Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • 1. General Introduction
  • Problems and Goals
  • Methodology
  • Definitions of Key Terms
  • Outline of the Book
  • Delimitations and Limitations
  • 2. Religious Peacebuilding in Goma: A Conceptual Framework
  • Introduction
  • Conflict and Different Kinds of Peace
  • Religious Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation: Religion as a Transformer of Conflicts for a Lasting Peace
  • From Conflict Resolution to Conflict Transformation
  • Three Levels of Religious Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation
  • Christian Theologies of Peace
  • Conclusion
  • 3. From Missionary Works to Local Churches in Goma
  • Introduction
  • From Ngoma to Goma: A General Overview
  • Missionaries in the Congo (1482–1959): First and Second Evangelizations
  • Missionary Roles: Interdependence of Missions in the Colonial State
  • Protestant Missionaries: Early Activities in Kivu
  • From Baptist Missionaries to Congolese Churches: Emergence of the Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique
  • The Emergence of New Religious Movements in Colonial and Post-Colonial Congo
  • Revival Churches in Congo: Emergence of the Centre Évangélique Francophone Arche de l’Alliance Goma
  • Three Kinds of Grassroots Pastoral Approaches: Communautés Écclésiales Vivantes de Base, Upendo and Cell Groups
  • Conclusion
  • 4. What Kinds of Peace?
  • Introduction
  • Different Kinds of Peace: Catholic, 3ème CBCA and Arche Churches in Goma
  • Causes of Conflict: Perspectives from the Catholic, 3ème CBCA and Arche Churches in Goma
  • Theologies of Peace from the Catholic, 3ème CBCA and Arche Churches in Goma
  • Perceptions of Relationships within and between the Catholic, 3ème CBCA and Arche Churches
  • Conclusion
  • 5. A Comparative Analysis of the Catholic, 3ème CBCA, and Arche Churches in Goma
  • Introduction
  • Emergence, Maintenance and “Decay”: A Three-Phase Cycle of Religious Institutions
  • Institutional and Personal Roles of the Catholic, 3ème CBCA, and Arche Churches in Religious Peacebuilding in Goma
  • Membership as Social and Political Mobilizations
  • Mobilization beyond the Local Sphere as a Global Phenomenon
  • Resource Mobilization and Competition: The Crux of Christian Religious Institution Relationships
  • Conclusion
  • 6. General Conclusions
  • Overview
  • Catholic, 3ème CBCA, and Arche: A Religious Peacebuilding Project
  • Theoretical and Practical Implications of Religious Peacebuilding in Goma
  • Theoretical Implications
  • Practical Implications
  • Beyond a Christian Religious Peacebuilding in Goma
  • Index
  • Series Index

← x | xi →



ABFMSAmerican Baptist Foreign Mission Society
ABMUAmerican Baptist Mission Union
ACCMBKAssociation des Chrétiens Congolais de la Mission Baptistes du Kivu (Association of Congolese Christians of the Baptist Mission in Kivu)
ACEACAssociation des Conférences Épiscopales de l’Afrique Centrale (Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa)
AFDLAlliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaïre)
AIAAssociation internationale africaine (International African Association)
AICAssociation internationale du Congo (International Association of the Congo)
CADCCommunauté Assemblée de Dieu au Congo (Community of the Assembly of God in Congo)
CBKCommunauté Baptiste au Kivu (Baptist Community in Kivu)
CBCACommunauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique (Baptist Community in the Centre of Africa) ← xi | xii →
CBFMSConservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society
CDJPCommission Diocésaine Justice et Paix (Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace)
CEFCentre Évangélique Francophone (Francophone Evangelical Centre)
CEHCComité d’études du Haut-Congo (Upper Congo Study Committee)
CEJPCommission Épiscopale Justice et Paix (Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace)
CENICommission Électorale Nationale Indépendante (Independent National Electoral Commission)
CEVCommunauté ecclésiale vivante (Living Ecclesial Community)
CEVBCommunauté ecclésiale vivante de base (Base Living Ecclesial Community)
CNDPCongrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (National Congress for the Defense of the People)
ECCÉglise du Christ au Congo (Church of Christ in Congo)
ECZÉglise du Christ au Zaïre (Church of Christ in Zaïre)
EICÉtat indépendant du Congo (Congo Independent/Free State)
EJCSKÉglise de Jésus-Christ sur la Terre par son envoyé spécial Simon Kimbangu (Church of Jesus Christ on the Earth by His sent one Simon Kimbangu)
ESAMEvangelization Society Africa Mission
FARDCForces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo Forces)
FIBForce Intervention Brigade
FTSRFaculté de théologie et de sciences des religions (Faculty of theology and religious studies)
MBKMission Baptiste au Kivu (Baptist Mission in the Kivu)
MLNMission Libre Norvégienne (Norwegian Evangelical Mission)
MONUCMission des Nations Unies au Congo (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
MONUSCOMission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation du Congo (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
M23Mouvement du 23 mars (March 23 Movement)
NBCNorthern Baptist Convention ← xii | xiii →
RCDRassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (Congolese Rally for Democracy)
RDCRépublique Démocratique du Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
SECAMSymposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar
SMFSvenska Missions förbundet
UAMUnevangelized American Mission ← xiii | xiv →

← xiv | xv →



This book is the product of several years of research including fieldwork in a conflict zone. It was therefore made possible through the instrumentality of a number of people to whom I am sincerely grateful. The contribution of many research participants who placed their trust in me and agreed to share their life’s difficult situations, even amidst violent conflicts during the March 23 rebellion. I would like to particularly recognize some of the people who shared their stories, instructed me through personal anecdotes, and provided special advice during my fieldwork in Kinshasa and Goma: my two grandmothers, Tate (grandmother) Marthe and Nya Doro, who I had the great privilege of seeing last before they pass; former Governor and Mayor Maliaseme; lay Pastoral agent Jacques Maliaseme; and Professor Richard Mugaruka who all passed away before the completion of this book.

I am also grateful to both Professors David Robert and Patrice Brodeur who have helped me throughout my graduate academic years at the University of Montreal. This book grew out of my doctoral thesis under the supervision of the latter. I am also indebted to Professors Nicole Eggers and David Gordon whose critiques and comments of the manuscript were of great value.

Special thanks go to Professor Andrea Bartoli—Dean of the School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University—who took the time to write the foreword of this ← xv | xvi → book. I substantially benefited from his wisdom, leadership and mentorship while working as researcher on shared projects. In the same vein, I am grateful to the contributions of faculty and administrative staffs of the School of Diplomacy during my Executive MS program. I am equally grateful for the unique academic environment and support of colleagues at Seton Hall University which were conducive for the successful completion of the manuscript. I owe my deepest debt of gratitude to Drs. Nancy Enright and Sister John Bosco Amakwe for their insights and support; Sushant Naidu and Oluwagbemiga Oyeneye, for reading early chapters of the manuscript and their pertinent feedbacks; Sheryl Steadman, Emanuel Hernandez, Patricia Zaini Gracia, and Erick Agbleke, for making my integration at Seton Hall University and in South Orange (New Jersey) much easier.

This book would not have seen the light of the day without the support and encouragement of my family. My parents, Dr. Alfani Shesoko Emile and Lufungula Dorothée, have been instrumental in deciding to embark on a Ph.D. adventure and to write a book. These two decisions represent in some way the results of their immeasurable efforts and sacrifices. They have instilled both in me and all my siblings—to whom I wish to also thank for their support—values of sacrifice, hard work, education, and relationship.

Finally, and most important, I am highly indebted to my lovely wife, Georgine, and our wonderful children, Esther Henel, Josef-Nissi Salem and David Yadah, for their unwavering support, patience and endurance over the years. I dedicate this book to them. I can never thank Georgine enough, for her kind understanding and support throughout my graduate studies and particularly in my absence for fieldwork in a conflict zone.

← xvi | xvii →



This book is the product of a new synthesis that links the local, cultural, social and political conditions of the Kivus with the peace building, conflict resolution, and conflict transformation contributions. It is good to see the familiarity with Western authors being blended with the originality of authentic testimonies. Peace is not obvious for many trapped by the contradictions of violent experiences produced by inadequate responses to long-term and structural drivers. Yet actively seeking a way out of the spiral of violence, Christians of different churches engage systematically and consistently in peace building. Peace—through the work and commitment of many—becomes the yeast of an emerging community of conscience. While peace might not be completely secured and prevalent, the longing for it is orienting the actions of many. Religion can be divisive and might play a destructive role in human relations. Many scholars have argued the ambivalence of the sacred. Alfani underlines the responsibility of revisiting deep-rooted cultural heritage in the midst of challenges that are at times overwhelming. This responsibility is personal and collective at the same time. It is the duty of those who do not want to be powerless in front of contradictions that seem to overwhelm them. I found touching that the writer references a wide array of authors while describing the need for a new pastoral approach. From a Congolese priest, Jean-Marie Vianney Kitumaini to Johan Galtung, from John Paul Lederach to Edward Azar, up ← xvii | xviii → to the American bishops and René Coste. The pathway experienced locally puts prayer and sacramental liturgy at the core of this commitment. Peacebuilding in Goma, through the life of the three churches considered in the study—Roman Catholic, 3ème Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique (CBCA) and Arche de l’Alliance (Arche)—is made of people believing that their prayer counts, that their education and training of consciences (preaching, homily and catechism of peace) make a difference and that peace can be acted upon in numerous ways. Indeed, the notion of an emerging “community of conscience” is very relevant. Peace is not a moment, it is not a status, it is a dynamic commitment that transforms the lives of communities trying to find alternatives to violence and oppression. The use of Kä Mana’s work on the “Christianity of catastrophe” encourages a critical examination of African Christian faith in general and that of the Congo, in particular. The Catholic, 3ème CBCA and Arche Churches of Goma have to be liberated from the burdens of the past, from the heavy load of misunderstanding and hostility. Peacebuilding cannot be but practice informed by the Word, verified in the actual effects that it has on people and measured in the long term consequences of its impact. Goma has a rich history and the churches are deeply rooted in the territory. They weave cultures and populations into the dynamic present, changing themselves in the process. Studying peacebuilding through actual cases is indispensable to advance the knowledge of what is possible and good. Alfani has done a great service by focussing on actors and areas that are in dire need of self-expression, self-determination and self-governance. I am convinced that this is only the beginning of a rich professional career, and I am delighted to learn more in the process.

Andrea Bartoli

Dean, School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University

← xviii | 1 →



General Introduction

This book is situated primarily within the field of religious studies, while borrowing from other fields because of the topic being studied. Therefore, it is interdisciplinary in nature and includes perspectives from other disciplines such as theology, peace studies, sociology, anthropology, international relations and political science to allow for better understanding of the issue at hand. This introductory chapter is subdivided into five different sections. The first section begins by discussing the problems and goals that motivated this study. In the second section, I focus on the questions inherent to this research that determined the methodology which best suits this study—a qualitative case study method. In addition to the definitions given in the body of the book, I provide, in the third section, flexible and evolving working definitions of important concepts (based notably on the contributions of the research participants) related to this book (e.g., peacebuilding, religion, religious peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and so on). While further definitions emerge in the research findings chapter (Chapter Four), those presented in this third section remain as initial working definitions to better understand the key concepts initially, even if these definitions will be elaborated upon later in the book. The fourth section provides an outline of the chapters that constitute this book. Finally, in the fifth section I discuss about the delimitations (or boundaries) and limitations of this research. ← 1 | 2 →


XX, 214
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XX, 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Roger Alfani (Author)

Roger B. Alfani, Ph.D. (University of Montreal), is an adjunct professor in the University Core at Seton Hall University and a Resarch Fellow at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations of the same university. His research focuses on the role of religious actors in peacebuilding and the nexus between religion and foreign policy.


Title: Religious Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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236 pages