History September 12, 2016 at 07:30 am

Angola’s Queen Nzinga Mbande Possessed Great Political, Diplomatic Acumen

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi September 12, 2016 at 07:30 am

September 12, 2016 at 07:30 am | History

A portrait of Queen Nzinga Mbande of Angola. Open Learn

In Angola’s journey to civilization, many prominent individuals made their mark through their immense contributions for which they are still being honored centuries after they have passed on. One such individual is Queen Nzinga Mbande.

Who Is Queen Nzinga?

During the 16th century, when Queen Nzinga or “Njinga” went to meet Portuguese Luanda Governer Joao Correia to discuss a peace treaty, he refused to offer her a seat to sit on for negotiations and instead showed her a floor mat.

However, according to Mbundu custom, the floor was only appropriate for subordinates.

Refusing to be dishonored, the Queen ordered one of her servants to get down on all fours, and she sat on her back throughout the negotiations.

At that meeting, delegates were reportedly stunned by Queen Nzinga’s self-assurance and diplomatic acumen; she succeeded in persuading the governor to agree to the terms of her treaty.

Nzinga’s Struggle for Control

Despite her alliance with the Portuguese, the latter continued to invade her kingdom, capturing slaves and stealing precious items. This led her brother Mbandi, who was the King of Ndongo, to commit suicide since he was convinced that they would never recover from the war.

Many were convinced that it was Nzinga, though, who had actually poisoned him with the hope of succeeding him as Queen. Consequently, the Portuguese denied her the right to take over as the queen, but Nzinga took control as regent of her brother’s son Kaza who was living with the Imbangala.

She later requested to have the young boy under her care, and a few months after the boy was returned, she is alleged to have killed him for his audacity.  She therefore assumed the powers of ruling Ndongo and went ahead to declare herself the “Lady of Andongo” also referred to as Queen of Andongo.

For her legacy, Queen Nzinga is remembered as one of the key figures who fought and resisted colonialism in Angola and Africa in general. Nzinga was on the front line in the fight against the Portuguese and slave trade in Central Africa.

Throughout her reign, Queen Nzinga Mbande led her army against the Portuguese, with many African leaders using her as an inspiration in their struggle for independence. She died peacefully in 1663.

Learn more about Queen Nzinga below:

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