Last modified: 2017-06-15 by rob raeside
Keywords: asla-oph | association louzolo amour – organisation pour l’humanité |
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In the Republic of Congo, the church known as Louzolo-Amour (officially
ASLA-OPH: Association Louzolo Amour – Organisation pour l’Humanité [Organization
for Mankind]) is a new expanding religion. The movement, which grew from the
1970s/1980s, is said to bring today together between 50,000 and 100,000
followers in Congo-Brazzaville, as well as in neighboring countries (especially
the Kongo area) and within the Congolese diaspora (France, Belgium, United
States). The holy city of the movement is in Kibossi, in the department of Pool,
in the south of Congo.
The movement was founded by Guy Emile Loufoua Cetikouabo, who proclaimed himself God, and claimed from 1988 to be invisible by his followers. He is represented on earth by the current leader of the church called Charles Mikoungui Loundou. For the believers, the founder has the three characteristics of God, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient and he is said to “be born without a navel”. The church members believe that a mixture of beer and faith which they call “biéramicine” casts out demons and heal diseases.
According to an article by Bernard Coyault, French anthropologist (see: https://www.cairn.info/revue-afrique-contemporaine-2014-4-page-109.htm), Guy-Émile Loufoua Cetikouabo, born in 1941, "legal representative of the “OPH” on earth", was first a member of the Salvation Army. The doctrine of its movement, based on Protestant Christianity, has been enriched over the revelations he has been transmitting for decades, with an acceleration since the mid-2000s. Since 1988, he appears no more to his followers and communicates only by recorded messages. This physical disintegration led to the idealization and gradual deification of Guy Emile Loufoua Cetikouabo (and the doctrines he transmits), who is considered "the image of the invisible God, as was the case of Jesus Christ on earth." An attack on him in February 2002, interpreted as a redemptive passion, further reinforced this Christian identification. Since then, followers believe that the master, "incarnation of the Holy Spirit and continuator of the work of Christ," would be endowed with ubiquity and able to move and appear in all places. The rumors (summer 2014) of the death of the prophet do not seem to have weakened beliefs elaborated around his person. These "divine truths" transmitted over the years have come to constitute an autonomous ritual. On the religious level, the ASLA-OPH is not recognized by any other Christian organizations or federations of churches in the Congo. But the movement enjoys full legal recognition by government authorities (as an
association and not as a church).
According to Mr. Coyault’s article, the flag of the movement is a symbol of the divine presence of Guy-Émile Loufoua Cetikouabo. The flag is hoisted at the beginning of each gathering next to the Congolese flag. This raising of the colors, followed with respect and devotion, operates the sanctification of the cult space, delineated by several banners. No one can enter it before the raising of the flag, which takes place by singing the hymn of the movement.
The flag thus hoisted is guarded throughout the duration of the ceremony by
confirmed members arranged all around. It is in this space delimited by the zone
of the flag in the center and banners on the outer perimeter that the dances,
the teachings, the prayers take place. According to the anthem, the colors of
the OPH are the following : the white color symbolizes the peace of God, blue
embodies purity of heart, the yellow color stands for the fire of the Holy
Spirit, and the red color is the blood shed by Jesus Christ.
The four colors of the flag - white, blue, yellow and red burgundy - are included in all the visual supports of the movement. For Bernard Coyault, the centrality of the flag in the ritual and spirituality of the ASLA-OPH (to the point where it even seems to embody the divinity when it is hoisted) show the influence of the Salvation Army in the religious path of the founder.
The flag has a white field, an upper yellow thick border, a thick burgundy-red border at the fly and a lower blue border. The emblem of the movement is in the middle of the flag with the words “Amour – Unité – Paix (love, unity, peace) above in light blue, the letters “OPH” in burgundy, and around it the words Association Louzolo Amour in yellow. The emblem shows on burgundy-red square a 8-pointed yellow star (like the one on the Salvation Army flag) fimbriated white, and in the center a representation of the earth with a red heart and a handshaking.
Olivier Touzeau, 28 May 2017