Queen Nzinga Mbande (1583 – 1663)

Nzinga Mbande was born circa 1583, in the Kingdom of Ndongo, in what is now Angola. Daughter of the ngola (leader) of the ethnic group of the Mdundu, she became a great leader herself. When the Portuguese colonizers tried to invade the rich Kingdom of Ndongo, her brother sent her to negotiate a peace with them. She signed an agreement, in which she swore to Christianize the kingdom – becoming herself known for her Christian name, Anna de Sousa – and to trade with the Portuguese, in exchange of peace and the promise that they wouldn’t take her people as slaves. However, the Portuguese broke off their engagement, leading to the death of Nzinga’s brother. Becoming the queen of the kingdom, she had to flee to Matamba, the neighboring kingdom, where she took power, thus becoming Nzinga Mbande, Queen of Ndongo and Matamba. From there, she built several alliances to fight the Portuguese and the trade of slaves. Alongside with the Dutch and other African neighbors, she undertook a long resistance, that lasted for many years, and made of Matamba a very powerful realm. Holding the last independent kingdom until her death, Queen Nzinga was the last sovereign of what is now Angola, having protected her people from being sold as slaves to the Portuguese. Today, she is still seen a figure of resistance in the Angolan mindset.

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