Croix-Koma, a small African village some 80 miles (120 Kilometres) from Brazzavilla, the capital of the Congo Republic, is rapidly becoming the centre of a new sub-religion.
GV Village of Croix-Koma PAN TO cement cross
LV ZOOM IN & SVs Malela Boutsiele Antoine conducting service at altar in front of Cross of Lorraine (3 shots)
CU Part of the congregation
SV Malela showing pictures of closed locks
CU Part of crucifix
CU Malela shows pictures of open locks
SV Malela sprinkles pilgrims with holy oil
SV & LV Pilgrims touching bell pole as they pass in front of Cross-of-Lorraine (2 shots)
Initials BB/2142 DN/MR/BB/2156
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Background: Croix-Koma, a small African village some 80 miles (120 Kilometres) from Brazzavilla, the capital of the Congo Republic, is rapidly becoming the centre of a new sub-religion.
Each Thursday pilgrims from throughout the Congo flock to the village to hear the teachings of Prophet Malela Boutsiele Antoine. Although he's not a Christian, Malela's teachings often parallel those of the local Christian missionaries. He urges his followers to be honest, hard working and to give up adultery. But most of all they must renounce their fetishes and superstitions. Strangely, however, he tells his followers they will die if they break their vows.
Malela works with the aid of a number of unusual symbols; an open lock represents an honest and sincere heart, while a closed lock represents evil. One of his main symbols is the French Cross-of-Lorraine.
Initiation into the religion is simple: pilgrims generally spend up to a week singing and praying and listening to Malela's teaching. On the second day, they give up all their fetishes, and by the fifth day they are ready to follow the rules of the prophet. They're fully fledged members after receiving a numbered card and entering their names in a register.