Frederic Hunter takes us to Belgian Congo, portraying colonial administration of millions of Congolese and the uprising instigated by a healer who has broken no laws, yet directly challenges the authority of the ruling Belgian government. Governor-general Count Lippens must deal with this challenge and appease the ruling class in the Congo.
In Frederic Hunter’s Congo Prophet, we are in the Belgian Congo in 1921. Maurice Count Lippens, the newly appointed governor-general, is sent just 13 years after the end of the Congo Free State, King Leopold II’s exploited and terrorized colony, with the goal of reforming Congo’s administration and bringing the rule of law. Reforming the administration previously used to oppress Africans is much more difficult than it sounds. Belgium rules the millions of Congolese with only a few thousand administrators, plus the Force Publique, the Army that provides policing to the colony. The key stakeholders are the Roman Catholic church, Protestant missionaries, Belgian settlers, and the administration. Confronted with a Congolese healer who has attracted thousands to leave their homes, the stakeholders all want the healer killed, so that the situation can go back to “normal.” However, the healer has broken no laws. This is the Count’s dilemma: how can you bring the rule of law to a broken country? Congo Prophet brilliantly portrays the conundrum of colonial administration, the rule of law, and the meaning of justice.
—Ted Anagnoson, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Cal State Los Angeles