Queen Series: Queen Nzinga

Welcome to the Queen Series, highlighting and paying homage to the different African Queens throughout time who have paved the way.

We first bring you Queen Nzinga, a fierce warrior Queen!

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Queen of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Angolan Mbundu people, she fought against the Portuguese and set her people free from capture.

One of the best know stories of Nzinga was when she was sent to represent the king during the meeting with Joao Corria de Sousa, the Portuguese governor, in Luanda. 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.

She was a warrior Queen who fought and didn’t back down. In 1626, Nzinga became the queen of her people following her brother’s death. In the same year, the Portuguese renewed their attacks against the Ndongo by hiring the Imbangala to do their fighting for them. Unable to defeat the Portuguese militarily, Nzinga and her people fled westwards, and founded a new state at Matamba.

From Matamba, Nzinga fought against the Portuguese in a war that lasted three decades. Amongst other measures, the queen offered sanctuary to runaway slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers who came to her kingdom. Additionally, she stirred up unrest within Ndongo as well, which was at that time controlled indirectly by the Portuguese via a puppet king. Moreover, Nzinga exploited European rivalries to her advantage. This can be seen in the alliance that she forged with the Dutch, who were the rivals of Portugal.

Nzinga is said to have continued her fight against the Portuguese. More importantly, perhaps, were the efforts made by her to transform her kingdom into a commercial power, considering that it occupied a strategic position between a part of the African coast and it’s interior. By the time of her death in 1663, Matamba is said to have had developed into a formidable commercial state that was able to deal with the Portuguese on an equal footing.

What an amazing warrior Queen. She is an inspiration to us all. The passion and fight for her people led her to being one of the most revered Queens in our history.

Long live Queen Nzinga!

Photography by Sean Nicholas Amey

Creative Direction and Styling: I AM BATANI

Crown by: Shop 1323

Queens Reign Supreme

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