10 Queen Nzinga Facts (heroine of the slave trade)

Queen Nzinga Facts.In Africa as elsewhere, collective memory records only a few women, about whom very little is known. All over Africa have left their mark by being great war chiefs or resisting white domination in political or religious terms.

Who Was Queen Nzinga.

10 Queen Nzinga Facts (heroine of the slave trade)

Queen Nzinga Mbande (or Mbundu), “heroine of the slave trade,” resisted the Portuguese advance on the southern Kongo kingdom for many years. She was born around 1582, apparently the daughter of a slave and the king (mbande a ngola) of Ndongo. (The Portuguese turned his title into the name of the country, “Angola,” which despite its intense resistance became a colony in 1575.) Nzinga began her political activism under her elder half-brother’s reign.

Queen Nzinga Facts You Must Know, She was called heroine of the slave trade.

  • She was an active slave trader in northwestern Angola, ready to submit to the Portuguese. One brilliant action, probably embellished by the Portuguese chroni-clers and the Italian Capuchin monks, our primary sources, Preview made her famous forever. After many years of war, she was sent to Luanda in 1622 to discuss peace terms with the Portuguese governor there.
  • As a necessary preliminary (which for a time won her Portuguese goodwill), she had herself baptized Dona Ana de Souza. In exchange for temporarily opening her country to missionaries and especially to the Portuguese slave trade, she managed to have a fortress that was located too close to her lands evacuated and certain chiefs whom the Portuguese had made their vassals freed.
  • Most important, she won the recognition of her dominion over Ndongo. The freed chiefs were probably little inclined to accept this, given the double handicap of her precarious political ascendancy and her being a woman.
  • She broke with Christianity and allied herself with the Jaga, a marginal group of warriors recently arrived from the southern Kwanza River plateaus. The legend of her cannibalism perpetuated by the Portuguese arose partly from the mores of these new allies and partly from her having had her brother’s son poisoned (as he had her own son some years earlier).
  • It is said that she won the Jaga over by guaranteeing freedom for slaves who managed to escape Portuguese hands. Whether or not this is true, she did categorically refuse to return fugitive slaves.
  • She also had the Portuguese army infiltrated by her men to incite the Africans within it to desert. Thus she was able to increase her forces and obtain sufficient arms to plunge the country into open warfare. The Portuguese, aided by perhaps most of the Mbundu, managed to rout her, and this led to a protracted guerrilla war. The Jaga’s mobile tactics helped to foil many Portuguese attempts to capture her dead or alive.
  • In 1629 she consolidated her power as a tembanza (a Jaga title reserved for powerful women) by arranging a ritual marriage (actually a political alliance) with the Jaga’s chief, the kasanje.n In the early 1630s, she finally managed to establish sovereignty over the neighboring kingdom of Matamba to the cast, where there was a useful ancient lost tradition of female chiefs. She broke with the Jaga when they allied themselves in their turn with the Portuguese and came to pillage her capital.
  • Both warrior and diplomat, Nzinga was also a great slave trader. Her apparent political twists and turns came from her need to establish her authority over external allies, since she lacked kinship support and especially men’s legitimacy.
  • She controlled the back-country slave-trading networks so thoroughly that the Portuguese had to resume fighting. So she bargained with the Dutch—who occupied Luanda from 1641 to 1648—to weaken her enemies, only giving in partially in 1656 by signing a treaty like the one she had signed almost thirty-two years earlier. She resumed slave trading with the Portuguese in Matamba, which had become the main regional slave marketplace.
  • At eighty-plus she is said to have sent a deputation to the pope and celebrated the event on the spot, finally dressed as woman—but an Amazon!
  • She died a Christian death in 1663 at over eighty-two, still independent. As successor she had chosen one of her sisters, also Catholic and recently purchased from the Portuguese for 130 slaves after eleven years in captivity. Yet Catholicism survived them only a short while in Matamba.

Nzinga’s story, relatively well known to Europeans, is very similar to what was probably the first African novel written in French, published in 1769. Highly embellished and combining fact with fiction, it incited the indignation and fascination of readers throughout the Enlightenment.

by Abdullah Sam
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