A fearless African queen, who fought for the liberation of her people against the Portuguese who were colonizing the areas at the time.
In the year 1570, the Portuguese established a colony in Angola. They were the earliest European colonists to settle in Africa due to the fascination of their prince Henry ‘The Navigator’ who was an adventurous being.
Bearing in mind that the complete control of the Portuguese over Angola was not anticipated, not because there was a lack in superior technology and weaponry of which they madubuse of and emerged victorious – but because of the bravery, military strategy and diplomacy exemplified by one of Africa’s greatest warrior Queens in the books of history. Queen Nzinga.
In 1583 during the Atlantic slave trade which seemed to be booming at the time due to the increase of Portuguese establishments, Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba was born.
– During this period a majority of the local chiefs had already given in and were also participants of the slave trade they either did the raiding or repossessed the land only for them to be compensated not gifted, but compensated with mirrors, alcohol and materialistic items.
– Let us also note that England and France joined forces and combined this colony business as it was profitable for them. Portugal wanted to dominate Angola desperately so.
Nzinga’s parents, Ngola ka Samba (Father) and Guenguela Cakombe(Mother) ruled over the Mbundu people in the kingdoms of Ndongo and Matamba as overlords. She also had siblings- her two sisters Kifunji and Mubkumbu and one brother Mbandi.
It is recorded in history that Angola got it’s name from the Portuguese who called the land Ngola with reference to Ngola ka Samba(Nzinga’s father) it was then later changed to Angola
Legend has it that during the time of her birth, Queen Nzinga’s umbilical chord was wrapped around her neck hence the name Nzinga. It was prophesied by a wise old woman that Nzinga would become a great queen later on in her life. This proved to be true, Queen Nzinga was very smart and intelligent I’m such a way that her father took her with him to meetings of the state, functions and even to battle.
Ngola ka Samba fought a number of battles to protect his domain from the infiltration and take over of the Portuguese, it was here wheen she became a military strategist and warrior.
After the demise of Ngola Ka Samba, Mbandi (Nzinga’s brother) took over the reins of government, appointing Nzinga with a state assignment for the first time – hers was to act as an envoy in a peace conference with the Portuguese. The fight between the Ndongo people and the colonizers had reached a stage where peace was the only solution, but the Portuguese unlike the Ndongo people had other selfish intentions which were later revealed at the conference.
The governer of the time J C de Sousa and his entourage were seated filling up all the seats leaving Nzinga and her entourage with no place to sit- this did not stop her or her people one of her maids rolled out a mat for her and a male servent bended as a bench for her to sit.
The power she commanded among her people did not go unnoticed, in fact the portoguese marveled over it and this was an advantage as it gave her good credit thus her ability to secure a good deal at the conference.
Nzinga could also speak and write Portuguese due to her association with her father, this aslo gave her leverage which resulted in a successful negotiation and peace treaty.
The peace lasted for a while, the Portuguese renegade Don the treaty and attacked Ndongo, in 1624 Mbandi died and Nzinga (though not fully supported because of her gender) became the Queen.
Rumors surfaced that she had been the mastermind behind the death of her brother and son was regend at the time so she could become the ‘King’ and overthrow the Portuguese bravely so.
Nzinga repelled against the Portuguese onslaught defeating them at times and in 1625 she was defeated and managed to escape behind the Matamba mountains. This later led to her forming alliance with the Dutch – moving to Kavanga in former Ndongo, she then defeated the Portuguese at Ngoleme and later during the battle of Kombi – it took an ugly turn when her sister who was a spy for her in former Ndongo was killed she then retracted to Matamba.
The battle between Queen Nzinga and the Portuguese was lengthy and both parties became battle weary, hence the signing of the new peace treaty. Queen Nzinga proclaimed her territory a free country where all who live in are equal and she became renowned for her bravery and heroism in her fight against the Atlantic slave a trade.
Resetting former slaves and protecting her people from oppression until the 17th of December in 1663 at the age of 81 when she joined her ancestors.
We celebrate and honor Queen Nzinga for her deeds and style of leadership, and shall continue to tell her story to future generations.
The Major statue in Luanda the capital city of Angola was built to honor her.
We are Queen Nzinga and she is us.