No. 72, Fall 2022
Floribert Matungulu Givule: Constructive Peacemaker
Floribert Matungulu Givule was born in 1945 in the Katembo Kikhomba area north of Mungindu, in the Kwilu district, formerly Bandundu province. His father, Kulutu-AGiwangwa, was a farmer in the village of Kibo, a village with a Protestant religious population. His mother’s name was A Gukumina-A-Nzovu. Matungulu was the youngest of her five children. Matungulu lost his mother when he was five years old. He was raised by his aunt Kotshi-A-Giwangwa, the younger sister of Kulutu-A-Giwangwa.
Matungulu received his primary education at the Protestant school of the American Mennonite Brethren Mission (AMBM), now a school of the Communauté des Églises des Frères mennonites (CEFMC; Congolese Mennonite Brethren Church) in Kibo. He was advised to continue the rest of the classes from third to seventh grade at the AMBM mission in Kafumba.
Matungulu made the decision to accept Jesus Christ in Kafumba, following the preaching of Rev. Ndjimbo Timothée on the passages of Haggai 1:13 (“I am with you, says the Lord”) and Jeremiah 42:11 (“for I am with you to save you and to deliver you from his hand”). He was baptized in the Kwilu River in Kafumba, on December 12, 1958, by Rev. Ndjimbo Timothée.
Matungulu was a calm, but also courageous child. During his childhood, the Mulelist rebellion broke out in the Kwilu region (1963–1965). One day, Matungulu went fishing in the Kwilu River. Suddenly, he heard bombs exploding and fled. Although he could not swim, he was given a spirit of courage. He decided to cross the Kwilu River, and God helped him reach the other side. When he arrived at the village of Katembo Kikhomba, he found the inhabitants fleeing the rebellion. Matungulu’s father took the family to hide in the forest. As they left, they encountered the rebels, but by God’s grace the rebels spared them and showed them a safe path. They were then able to hide in the deep forest.
After the rebellion, Matungulu continued his secondary education in the AMBM school, now Mbandu, in Kikwit, where he obtained his state diploma in 1970. In 1972, Matungulu was assigned as a teacher at the CEFMC Bumbu elementary school in Kinshasa. He was the pioneer of the Léopard primary school in Camp Luka (now Londzo) in the Commune of Ngaliema in Kinshasa. He got married in a religious ceremony in Kikwit on August 22, 1976, to Alphonsine Munganga, now a pastor of the Hosanna congregation of the CEFMC. The couple was always very attached to each other. For example, they would often sit next to each other or eat food from the same plate. They had four sons: Guy Matungulu, Muller Matungulu, Julie Matungulu, and Joël Matungulu.
In 1982, Matungulu understood the importance of doing higher studies at the Institut supérieur théologique de Kinshasa (ISTK), now the Université chrétienne de Kinshasa (UCKin). He did a preparatory year at the Faculty of Protestant Theology. In 1984, he obtained an undergraduate degree in theology from the ISTK. At the end of his undergraduate studies at ISTK, he returned to Kikwit, where he was assigned as chaplain to the Mbandu Institute. In 1985, he returned to Kinshasa for graduate studies at the Faculté de théologie protestante du Zaïre, now the Université protestante du Congo (UPC). During this time, he taught at the Centre universitaire de missiologie (CUM). In 1986, he obtained his Licence in Protestant Theology and became an associate professor of higher education at the Faculty of Protestant Theology of Zaire. He was ordained to the pastoral ministry on November 28, 1988.
Matungulu had other ambitions in his ministry. In 1992, he went to study at Rhodes University in Graham Town, South Africa, and, in 1994, he received a master’s degree. He then taught at Wesley International Bible College in Nigeria for two years. Returning to Kinshasa in 1996, Matungulu began his doctorate at UPC. In 2003, Matungulu reached the pinnacle of his studies by obtaining his doctorate in theology.
Rev. Dr. Matungulu taught at the Faculty of Evangelical Theology at UCKin from 2004 until his death and was dean of the faculty until 2018. From 2016 to 2019, Matungulu was in put in charge of scientific research in Bandundu by the then Minister of Higher Education and Universities of the DRC, Théophile Mbemba. He exercised this responsibility mainly in the city of Kikwit. In 2005, he was secretary of the Partnership Council of the Africa Inter- Mennonite Mission (AIMM) in Congo, a partnership body between Mennonite churches in the DRC and those in North America and Europe. He was also pastor in charge of the Paroisse Missionnaire de Kintambo (a Mennonite Brethren congregation) in Kinshasa from 1987 until his death. Matungulu died in July 2019 after a short illness.
Matungulu is remembered for his constructive spirit. Calm and gentle, he was a peacemaker, a unifier and a comforter in his community. He played a key role in some family reconciliations, such as promoting peace between Kikweta Mawa Wabala and his siblings. He loved his community, encouraged responsible partnership with the mother churches, and was the bearer of solutions that respected Anabaptist- Mennonite principles. He contributed to the re-establishment of community structures on new foundations, especially by helping with the redrafting of the community’s legal texts. During a conflict in 2004 within the executive committee of the CEFMC between the outgoing legal representative (Rev. Ndunda Gilbert) and the newly elected legal representative (Rev. Pelende Tshinyam), he served as an advisor to Rev. Ndunda in favor of the unity of the community. Finally, he left a legacy of many writings and trained leaders at all levels.