Queen Nzinga, a no nonsense Queen

Queen Ana Nzinga, also known as Njinga Mbande or Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande, was 17th century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in Angola.

Queen Nzinga is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese, and setting her people free from slavery.

Nzinga an Amazon and a warrior, used to dress in men’s clothing and was considered to be the best politician in the kingdoms. He never pleased her brother by her strategies, Mani aNgola, who ascended to the throne after their father’s death. As a result her brother sterilised and killed her only son. However, after numerous defeats he later begged for his sister Nzinga to intervene, and Nzinga agreed to help and prevent their people from being captured to be enslaved in new world.

In the first meetings when she was sent by her brother to represent him in 1622 when he was invited by Portuguese Governor Jao Corria to attend peace conference to end the hostilities amongst them, Nzinga sought to establish her equality with the representative of the Portugal crown, as they wanted to make Nzinga feel inferior and stand for the rest of meeting, by placing only one chair in the room which was belonged to Governor Corria, she immediately moved to one of her assistants who fell on her hands and knees and served as a chair for Nzinga for the rest of the meeting.

She made an agreements with Portuguese anyway despite the scenario. She converted to Christianity and changed her name to Dona Anna de Souza. She was baptized by governor’s wife who became her godmother. She convinced the reluctant Ngola Mbade to order the conversation his people to Christianity.

In 1626, Nzinga became queen of the Mbundu after her committed suicide in the face of rising Portuguese aggression, there are conflicting reports on how she became queen, as other sources claimed that after returning from negotiations with the Portuguese crown, she ordered her brother to be killed and later ascended to the throne.

Portuguese refused to honour the concession after the death the King. Nzinga, however refused to allow them to control her nation. In 1627, after forming an alliance with former rival states, she led her army against the Portuguese, initiating a three decades war against them. She capitalised on European rivalries by forging an alliance with the Dutch who had conquered Luanda in 1641. She defeated a Portuguese army in 1647. In the following year the Dutch were defeated by Portuguese and withdrew from Luanda. Nzinga continued her struggle against the Portuguese. In her 60s, Nzinga personally continued to lead her troops in the battle field. She orchestrated guerrilla attacks on the Portuguese which continued long after her death and inspired ultimately successful 20th century armed resistance against the Portuguese that resulted in independent Angola in 1975.

Despite repeated attempts by the Portuguese and their allies to capture or kill Queen Nzinga, she died peacefully in her eighties on December 17, 1663.

Queen Nzinga

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