Queen Anna Nzinga, known also as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbandi, was a queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (occupying what is today the country of Angola in the southern part of Africa) who lived during the 16 th and 17 th centuries AD. Queen Nzinga is best remembered for her resistance against the Portuguese, and setting her people free from slavery.
Queen Nzinga Mbande was a ruthless and powerful seventeenth-century African ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (modern-day Angola). Nzinga fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom and stature of her kingdoms against the Portuguese, who were colonising the area at the time.
Unlike many other rulers at the time, Nzinga was able to adapt to these fluctuations in power around her.
By her own determination and refusal to give in to the Portuguese without a fight, she transformed her kingdom into a formidable commercial state on equal footing with the Portuguese colonies.
To build up her kingdom’s martial power, Nzinga offered sanctuary to runaway enslaved people and African soldiers. She stirred up rebellion among the people still left in Ndongo, ruled by the Portuguese. Nzinga also reached out to the Dutch and invited them to join troops with her.
But their combined forces were not enough to drive the Portuguese out, however, and after retreating to Matamba again, Nzinga started to focus on developing Matamba as a trading power and the gateway to the Central African interior.
Queen Nzinga was born around the first half of the 1580s to her father Ngola Kiluanji Kia Samba,Wl who was the then ruler of the Ndongo people Nzinga’s father.
According to Ancient Origins “Ngola Kiluanji was deposed by his son, Mbandi, who was also Nzinga’s brother. The queen’s child is also said to have been murdered by the new king. Perhaps fearing for their lives, Nzinga and her husband fled to Matamba. It has also been claimed that Mbandi’s rule was cruel and chaotic, and that he was an unpopular ruler. Other sources, however, do not mention this episode. It is perhaps more likely that Nzinga remained at her brother’s court, and that the flight to Matamba was a later episode in Nzinga’s life—In any event, 1621/2 was an important year in the life of Nzinga.
It was during this year that the Portuguese invited Mbandi to a peace conference in the hopes of ending hostilities between the two peoples (the Portuguese had forced the king to flee from his court in 1617). Nzinga was sent to represent the king during the meeting with Joao Corria de Sousa, the Portuguese governor, in Luanda. One of the best-known stories about Nzinga took place during this meeting. Prior to the meeting, the Portuguese are said to have prepared the room with only one chair. This meant that Nzinga would be obliged to stand during the negotiations, thus making her seem inferior. Instead of doing so, Nzinga had one of her male servants get down on his hands and knees, thus serving as her chair”.
Nzinga Became the Queen of her people in 1626 after the death of her brother, shortly afterwards the Portuguese attacked again which caused Queen Nzinga and her people to flee westwards and founded the Matamba colony. Due to the control of the Portuguese through the puppet king in Ndongo, Queen Nzinga caused an unrest in Ndongo and used European rivalries to her Advantage.
By the time of Queen Nzinga’s death in 1661 at the age of 81, after fighting the Portuguese invasion for three decades—offering sanctuary to rebel slaves and Portuguese trained African Soldiers, Matamba was on equal footing with the Portuguese colony. The Portuguese came to respect Queen Nzinga for her shrewdness and intransigence.
Talk about a warrior Queen who knew her place and feared no colonizer.