Christmas may be months away, but for millions of followers of central Africa's Kimbanguist church, yesterday (25 May) was Christmas Day.

Kimbanguist church Congo Christmas Day
An orchestra made up of Kimbanguist believers play music during celebrations of Christmas Day on 25 May 2017 in Nkamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo John Wessels/AFP

Kimbanguism is a religious movement founded by Simon Kimbangu in 1921 in what was then the Belgian Congo – the Democratic Republic of the Congo today. The church has around five million believers and has its headquarters in Nkamba.

Kimbangu's second son, Father Dialungana Kiangani Paul Salomon, is believed to be the second coming of Christ, and as he was born on 25 May 1916, Christmas Day is celebrated on this date. The current leader of the church is Kimbangu's grandson Father Simon Kimbangu Kiangani. The church is Baptist in origins, and its followers embrace puritan values, rejecting alcohol, tobacco, and dancing. AFP photographer John Wessels travelled to Nkamba to document Christmas in May.