Today's post features a pair of cassettes that I purchased from a street vendor in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of the Kasai-Oriental, back in 2011.  The quality of these recordings is pretty lousy but the music is glorious.  These recordings feature two different congregations of the African Apostolic Church, a syncretic religious movement that drew on the teachings of the Bible to fight the spiritual and existential violence of European imperialism.

The African Apostolic Church was founded in Shonaland, in present-day Zimbabwe, in 1932.  The church was introduced to the Belgian Congo in 1953 by an ex-methodist preacher, and the church first came to Mbuji-Mayi in 1963.  The doctrine of the African Apostolic Church is based on the Bible, forbids the consumption of alcohol, permits polgyamy, and rejects modern medicine in favor of faith healing.  Today there are African Apostolic congregations in most villages in the Kasai-Oriental.

These recordings feature two rapturous choirs, there are no accompanying instruments, only voices!  Take the time to listen and get swept up in the melodies.

Bapostolo - Mbuji-Mayi B.mp3 - 68 MB

Groupe el Shagai A.mp3 - 71 MB

Once you have had time to digest the recordings, take a look at this video (from the same period as the cassette recordings).

This is a videocam recording made during a musical ceremony.  You get both a sense of the performance context and of how the recording was made--notice the two old-school cassette players on the table.  Music 'straight from the heart'.