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Nzinga Mbandi
(ca. 1582 - December 17, 1663) Angola

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nzinga01/nzinga MbandiNzinga Mbande was also known as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande, and she was the muchino a muhatu (queen) of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in southwestern Africa. In the Kimbundu language, as it is currently spelled, her name should be spelled Njinga, with the second letter being a soft "j" as the letter is pronounced in French and Portuguese. She wrote her name in several letters as "Ginga".

nzinga01/nzinga MbandiAngola is a large country in southwestern Africa made up of beautiful cities, towns, and rolling countrysides. It was a peaceful country before the invasions of Europeans in the sixteenth century. In 1582, Nzinga was born into the royal family and became queen in 1623.

Queen Nzinga led her people into heroic battles against the invading Portuguese. In 1624, she declared all territory in Angola a free country. This meant that all captives reaching Angola would be forever free. Ruthlessly, she punished leaders who were allies with white people.

She then selected groups of her soldiers to infiltrate the Portuguese armies. This effective strategy of placing agents among the Black troops under Portuguese domination was one of the most glorious, yet unsung pages in African history. Whole companies rebelled and deserted to the colors of the beautiful queen. There was much unity, patriotism, and fanatical devotion under a Black woman's leadership. Black unity was seen as Black power.

nzinga01/nzinga MbandiThe Portuguese army leadership decided that Queen Nzinga had to be destroyed. She fled Angola. The Portuguese leadership thought that her power was over. But any child in the city would tell you that the queen was just away on business. In 1629, she returned to wrest Angola back from the Portuguese and put Phillip I to flight. The Portuguese regrouped and attacked, but Queen Nzinga defeated them again.

Queen Nzinga led her people in resisting the European psychological technique of converting to Christianity and giving up their African name. She showed the way by renouncing her Christian name, Ann Nzinga, by which she had been baptized in the Catholic Church. She had discovered that being baptized into Christianity was surrendering your soul and body, not to Christ, but to the white man. To her, prisoners-of-war and the church were one and the same. She felt that every white man in Africa was an enemy of Blacks. Even the holy robes of priests covered their real mission. Their robes covered their lust for helpless African girls

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In 1662, at a conference with a governor of Portugal, he deliberately failed to provide a chair for her. Her loyal subjects knelt down before her and she sat upon their backs. Queen Nzinga never surrendered to any one.

Nzinga would die a peaceful death at age eighty in Matamba. She thus became one with the "Great I Am", as thousands stood in tears around her corpse.


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