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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X


BEL, Jacqueline. Congo, the mission and the literature. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2009, vol.46, n.1, pp.123-138. ISSN 2309-9070.

Missionaries played an important role in the colonisation of the Congo. They brought Christianity and "civilisation" to the new colony in central Africa, which was ruled over by the Belgian King Leopold II from 1885 to 1908 and by the Belgian government from 1908 to 1960. Missionaries were active in the field of education, but they also left their mark on colonial literature, both as authors and as protagonists. This article explores the traces of the missionaries in the literature on the Congo. Father Amaat Vyncke was an early example of a missionary and author, just as Father Garmijn and Father Constant de Deken. These missionaries provided a positive assessment on the colonial system in their writings. Writers like Ad. Verreet and J. G. Schoup used missionaries as protagonists in their novels. Schoup portrayed a sympathetic missionary who sharply criticised the colonial system. After the colonial period Jef Geeraerts painted a very negative image of the missionary in his Gangreen novels. However, the travel books written by Lieve Joris and Bart Castelein and the play Missie (Mission) written by David van Reybrouck (2007) sketched a positive and nostalgic image of the missionary.

Keywords : Dutch (post)colonial literature; Congo; missionaries; colonialism.

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