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Zaire Table of Contents



The Jamaa movement (jamaa means family in Kiswahili), like other Christian sects in Africa, has taken root under the umbrella of an existing church, in this case the Roman Catholic one. Jamaa is actually a European-African hybrid in that it was initially founded by a Flemish Franciscan priest, Placide Tempels, in 1953. Tempels helped to form small groups of African Catholics who met regularly with one another and with Tempels and his associates. Drawing from both African roots and Franciscan tradition, the movement emphasizes the importance of an emotional encounter with God and fellow believers and strives to draw out in group meetings the "vital force" Tempels believed to be characteristic of Bantu belief and practice.

Although accepted by the Roman Catholic Church (members continue to participate in parish activities and do not withdraw from the institutional church), the church hierarchy has periodically questioned the degree to which Jamaa deviates from Catholic belief and practice. The church has never denounced the Jamaa movement, but the hierarchy has grown steadily more wary of it.

Data as of December 1993