Artist-photographer Georges Senga investigates into the figure of Bonaventure Salumu, so-called "pagan hunter", who between the 1940s and 60s received a Christian education from missionaries in Congo, following which he was ordained to priesthood as a Jesuit, moved to Europe, eventually returning to his native village where he became a husband and father.
Through the narration of an intimate and personal story (the travel of Salamu through Europe, his permanence, his travels, the return to Zaire, today Democratic Republic of Congo), the project explore the pre-colonial and post-colonial relationship between Europe and Africa, starting by the XVI century until the modernity.
Bonaventure Salumu was born "around 1935", according to an article that appeared in the journal Message Chrétien when he returned to Lengwe, his village in the Kongolo region, probably between 1968 and 1972, after many years abroad as a priest. Following Salumu's path, Senga pursued a deeper understanding of the cultural value of this personal experience, visiting the archives in Rome of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and the Jesuits. These two Catholic congregations had a very long history in the Belgian Congo and Salumu was associated with them for a long period of his life. Interlacing private stories and public events, Senga's excavational work reveals, through the narration of this incredible life story, the history of the Kingdom of Kongo / Belgian Congo / Zaire against its global background: as an area that had been connected to Europe since the premodern era through the commercial and diplomatic exchanges of Portuguese seafarers with what they referred to as the Kingdom of Kongo, and therefore crucial for the religious and political networks of the early modern Atlantic. The documents collected in the archives of the Salumu family and those which emerged as a result of Georges Senga's research in Rome, show how the individual story of a simple man born in a village in the Tanganyka region, may become history by being located in a wider frame of reference. The voices of Salumu's best friend, daughter, and family members interviewed by Georges Senga, between 2020 and 2021, hold historical events present in the background as a constant presence that helps us to understand many of the events of his life in a wider perspective.
The texts collected in this book were commissioned from three young writers from Lubumbashi (Bibiche Tankama N'sel, Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, Ramcy Kabuya). Their contributions are based on the collection of photographies presented in this book and organized in three conceptual frames structured by the artis: the youth and education of Bonaventure; his travels; and family life in Zaire. Each text offers glimpses of a specific moment in the life of Salumu, elaborating on interviews, documentation and knowledge of History.
Georges Senga (born 1983 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo) a photographer. He develops his work around the history, memories and identity that are revealed, our actions past and present.