This essay addresses the issue of impermanence in sub-Saharan African architecture through a case study from the Eastern Pende of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It takes inspiration from the work of Pierre Clastres to examine the kibulu (the chief's ritual house), built from vegetal materials, as a product of choice and intention rather than as an example of a failed technology. Although interpreted as the "house of the dead," the plan, sculptural program, and landscaping of the kibulu are riven by a dialectical tension between the political and the ritual, between chiefs, who aspire to individualize the building and use it to forward their special status, and community members, who intend to prevent the chief from transforming his priestly function into one of coercive authority. Rules prohibiting maintenance of any kind ensure a regular renegotiation of the social contract between the chief and his people and underscore their interdependence.

Notes

Notes
1
Dell Upton, "Architectural History or Landscape History?," Journal of Architectural Education 44 (Aug. 1991), 195-9910.2307/1425140
195
Marvin Trachtenberg, Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism: The Western Tradition (New York, 1986), 41-42
Trachtenberg
41
Architecture, from Prehistory to Post-Modernism: The Western Tradition
1986
2
Upton, "Architectural History," 195-99.
Upton
195
Architectural History
3
Labelle Prussin, "An Introduction to Indigenous African Architecture," JSAH 33 (Oct. 1974), 183-84.
Prussin
Oct.
183
33
JSAH
1974
4
Pierre Clastres, Society against the State (1974; New York, 1989), 11-12, 18, 189.
Clastres
11
Society against the State
1974
5
Ibid., 43-44, 189-218.
6
Kodi Muzong Wanda, "A Pre-Colonial History of the Pende People (Republic of Zaire) from 1620 to 1900," 2 vols. (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1976), 1: 164-65
Sikitele Gize a Sumbula, "Histoire de la révolte pende de 1931," 3 vols. (Ph.D. diss., Université de Lubumbashi, 1986), 1:118
7
Sikitele, "Histoire de la révolte," 118.
Sikitele
118
Histoire de la révolte
9
Sikitele, "Histoire de la révolte," 118.
Sikitele
118
Histoire de la révolte
10
Clastres, Society, 30, 39, 27-47.
Clastres
30
Society
11
Z. S. Strother, Inventing Masks (Chicago, 1998), 260-61
Strother
260
Inventing Masks
1998
12
Upton, "Architectural History," 197.
Upton
197
Architectural History
13
Léon de Sousberghe, "Cases cheffales du Kwango," Congo-Tervuren 6, no. 1 (1960), 10-16.
de Sousberghe
1
10
6
Congo-Tervuren
1960
14
Leo Frobenius, Ethnographische Notizen aus den Jahren 1905 und 1906 (Stuttgart, 1988), vol. 3, 58, 59 (my translation).
Frobenius
3
Ethnographische Notizen aus den Jahren 1905 und 1906
1988
15
André Ombredane, "Les Techniques de fortune," Présence Africaine 13 (1952), 65
Ombredane
65
13
Présence Africaine
1952
Henri Nicolaï, Le Kwilu (Brussels, 1963), 160
Nicolaï
160
Le Kwilu
1963
16
Nicolaï, Le Kwilu, 144.
Nicolaï
144
Le Kwilu
17
Léon de Sousberghe, notebook "Mr Souris," 2
de Sousberghe
2
Mr Souris
18
Z. S. Strother, "From Performative Utterance to Performative Object," Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 37 (spring 2000), 69-70
Strother
spring
69
37
Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics
2000
19
Z. S. Strother, "Eastern Pende Constructions of Secrecy," in Mary Nooter, ed., Secrecy (New York, 1993), 156-78
Strother
156
Eastern Pende Constructions of Secrecy
1993
Labelle Prussin, "West African Mud Granaries, Paideuma 18 (1972), 161
Prussin
161
18
Paideuma
1972
21
Chief Nzambi (Kibunda a Kilonda), personal communication with the author (hereafter pers. comm.), Ndjindji, DRC, 1988.
22
Sh'a Mukenza, pers. comm., Ndjindji, DRC, 1988.
23
Chief Kende (Katshivi Koji), pers. comm., Ndjindji, DRC, 1988.
24
Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols (Ithaca, 1967), 50-54.
Turner
50
The Forest of Symbols
1967
25
Nzamba Gikhopo, Chief of Pidi-Samba, reported observing the same rule among the Central Pende, pers. comm., DRC, 1989.
26
Mukishi Loange, pers. comm., Ndjindji, DRC, 1988.
27
Julius F. Glück, "African Architecture," in Douglas Fraser, ed., The Many Faces of Primitive Art (Englewood Cliffs, 1966), 224-43
Glück
African Architecture
224
The Many Faces of Primitive Art
1966
Susan Denyer, African Traditional Architecture (New York, 1978), 130, 133-42
Denyer
130
African Traditional Architecture
1978
28
Ombredane, "Les Techniques," 58-68
Ombredane
58
Les Techniques
n. 15
29
Ibid., 60 and fig. 1.
30
Ibid., fig. 2.
31
Denyer, African Tradi- tional Architecture, 97
Denyer
97
African Traditional Architecture
34
Léon de Sousberghe, "Cases cheffales sculptées des Ba-Pende," Bulletin de la Société Royale Belge d'An- thropologie et de Préhistoire 65 (1954), 75-81
de Sousberghe
75
65
Bulletin de la Société Royale Belge d'Anthropologie et de Préhistoire
1954
35
De Sousberghe, notebook XX, 7, 72, 76, copy in the author's possession
36
The hedge is Euphorbia trigana HAW.
38
Frobenius, Ethno- graphische Notizen, 59 (see n. 14)
Frobenius
59
Ethnographische Notizen
39
Ngoma Kandaku Mbuya, pers. comm., Ndjanga (near Ndjindji), 1988.
40
Hyac. Vanderyst, "La Culture du Kamba," Missions belges de la Compag- nie de Jésus 28 (1926), 382-83.
Vanderyst
382
28
Missions belges de la Compagnie de Jésus
1926
41
Ngoma Kandaku Mbuya, pers. comm., Ndjanga (near Ndjindji), 1988.
42
Sh'a Pindji, pers. comm., Ndjindji-Kombo, 1988.
45
Chief Samba (Ngoyi Kisabu Kavundji), pers. comm., near Kingange, DRC, 1988.
46
Léon de Sousberghe, L'art pende (Brussels, 1959), 124
de Sousberghe
124
L'art pende
1959
47
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan. (New York, 1977), 201-2.
Foucault
201
Discipline and Punish
1977
48
Z. S. Strother, "Iconoclasm by Proxy," in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, eds., Iconoclash (Karlsruhe, 2002), 458-59.
Strother
Iconoclasm by Proxy
458
Iconoclash
2002
49
Strother, "Eastern Pende," 165-71 (see n. 19)
Strother
165
Eastern Pende
50
Léon de Sousberghe, "Régime foncier ou tenure des terres chez les Pende," Bulletin de PAcadémie Royale des Sciences Coloniales, Classe des Sciences Morales et Politiques, n.s., tome 4, séance 12 (1958), 1346
de Sousberghe
n.s.
1346
4
Bulletin de PAcadémie Royale des Sciences Coloniales
1958
51
Daniel Biebuyck, The Arts of Zaire, vol. 1 (Berkeley, 1985), 245-47
Biebuyck
245
1
The Arts of Zaire
1985
de Sousberghe, "Cases," 75 (see n. 34)
de Sousberghe
75
Cases
54
Kodi, "Pre-Colonial History," 2: 127 (see n. 6)
Kodi
127
2
Pre-Colonial History
Strother, "Performative Utterance," 49-71 (see n. 18)
Strother
49
Performative Utterance
Emil Torday and T. A. Joyce, "On the Ethnology of the South- western Congo Free State," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 37 (1907), 14810.2307/2790532
148
De Sousberghe, L'art pende, 127
De Sousberghe
127
L'art pende
Kodi, "Pre-Colonial History," 2: 128
Kodi
128
2
Pre-Colonial History
55
Kodi, "Pre-Colonial History," 2: 127.
Kodi
127
2
Pre-Colonial History
56
Mukishi Loange, pers. comm., Ndjindji-Kombo, DRC, 1988.
57
De Sousberghe, "Régime foncier," 1346
De Sousberghe
1346
Régime foncier
59
Strother, "Performative Utterance," 53
Strother
53
Performative Utterance
60
Prussin, "An Introduction," 205 (see n. 3).
Prussin
205
An Introduction
61
William H. Coaldrake, Architecture and Authority in Japan (London, 1996), 38-39
Coaldrake
38
Architecture and Authority in Japan
1996
62
Suzanne Preston Blier, "Houses Are Human," JSAH 42 (Dec. 1983), 373-74.
Blier
Dec.
373
42
JSAH
1983
63
Dominique Malaquais, Architecture, pouvoir et dissidence au Cameroun (Paris, 2002), ch. 5.
Malaquais
ch. 5
Architecture, pouvoir et dissidence au Cameroun
2002
64
Alfred Gell, Art and Agency (Oxford, 1998), 64.
Gell
64
Art and Agency
1998
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