Queen Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande of Ndongo (Angola)

Image: Queen Nzinga of Angola (circa b: 1581 - d. Dec. 17, 1663)

A brief account of the life and times of one of the earliest recorded African warrior queens, Queen Nzinga (aka Nzinga; Dona Ana de Sousa; Ana de Souza; Zhinga; N'Zhinga; Jinga; Ngola Ana Nzinga Mbande), renowned for her strategic military tactics and political and diplomatic intelligence.
Born as Princess Nzinga among the Mbundu (Ambundu) group of the Ndongo Kingdom in the central west Africa region now known as Angola. Her father was Ngola Kilajua, the word 'Ngola' referring to the title of the ruling chief, which later developed into the national name for the region. Her mother reportedly had no blood ties to the royal family  within the landed chieftain system. Nzinga had one brother, Ngola Mbandi, and two sisters, Kifunji and Mukambu. Though she resisted Portuguese colonial occupation of central west Africa for over four decades, she officially ruled Ndongo from 1624-1626 and 1657-1663.

The earliest European record of Nzinga was a report of her inclusion in her brother's envoy to an 1622 peace conference before the Portuguese's Luanda governor João Correia de Sousa. Luanda is an Atlantic coastal city, the largest city in Angola and the country's capital. An historical account of the conference includes the famous tale of Correia de Sousa's not offering Nzinga a chair, instead placing a floor mat before her to sit. In an 1690 book, the Italian priest Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi, in attendance at the court, memorialized the scene in an engraving whereby Nzinga asserts her status by sitting on the back of a maid servant within her royal envoy during the course of the negotiations. 

Image: Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi, Istorica Descrizione de' Tre Regni Congo, Matamba, et Angola (Milan, 1690), p. 437 Cavazzi writes the Queen's name as 'Zingha'. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University) 
Though a treaty was signed with the Portuguese at this peace conference it was never honored by them. They soon hired the Imbangala (aka Mbangala) to fight against the Ndongo Kingdom as they pushed to capture slaves to further their national slave trading export interests to the so-called New World. Prior to Nzinga's birth, the Portuguese had settled along the southern part of the Congo River and began moving up the Kwanza River Valley in search of slaves and gold. According to historical reports, the Imbangala in the 17th century mostly comprised bands of pillaging warriors native to this regions, founders of the kingdom of Kasanje. They aided the Portuguese colonial campaigns as early as those of Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos in 1618. The Imbangala's historical marauding customs were reportedly abandoned by the late seventeenth century.

Map: main region of military battles between Kingdom of Ndongo and Portuguese in Angola

The Mbundu tradition prohibited women rulers, so upon Nzinga's brother's death she became regent to his son Kiza, but soon convinced the Portuguese to support her bid to the throne. In 1622, she was baptized and took the Christian name Ana, the surname of the Luanda governor de Sousa and the Portuguese title Dona. Hence Princess Nzinga became known as Dona Ana de Sousa in a political move to help secure her succession to the Ndongo Kingdom throne. 

The Portuguese began negotiating directly with Nzinga. The arrival of Fernão de Sousa in 1624 started with discussions with her, but because she was not submissive to the Portuguese ended with her ouster from Kidonga. That same year she is reported to refer to herself as "Rainha de Andongo" (Queen of Andongo). After the Portuguese ouster, Nzinga continued fighting against the Portguese while in exile. She fled east but reclaimed the island in 1627. She was again driven out by the Portuguese in 1629, the year her sister was captured by their military forces. 

By 1641, Nzinga had entered into was is noted by commentors as the first African-European alliance against another European nations when she entered into negotiations  with the Dutch. In 1646 her army defeated the Portuguese at Davanga, but her other sister was captured. By 1647 her alliance with the Dutch was fruitful in the seizure of Masangano from the Portuguese. In 1648 her army retreated to Matamba, a pre-colonial African Kingdom located in what is now the Baixa de Cassange region of Malanje Province of modern day Angola. 

Photo: Statue of Queen Nzinga in Luanda, Angola on the Kinaxixi Square

In an 1657 speech, Queen Nzinga reportedly stated to her army that an alliance with the Imbangala was then a necessary evil in the military war against the Portuguese. In the same year, however, she signed a peace treaty with the Portuguese. She had fought against the their colonial and slave raiding attacks for decades.  Queen Nzinga died on December 17, 1663 at the age of 80. Unfortunately, her death accelerated Portuguese colonial occupation, as well as their Atlanta slave trade activities in central west Africa.

Photo: modern day aerial view of Luanda, Angola

palm sunday rci record store day fulltilt poker evangeline lilly  irginia tech talladega online poker gears of war 3 beta poker news nikki reed cluster bombs ihop pokerstars arca  reaper days inn royal wedding coachella directv  

Abd al Rahman Ibrahima Ibn Sori: From Guinea to the Mississippi Delta

Image: Abd al Rahman Ibrahima Ibn Sori (aka Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and The Prince) 
(Born: 1762 - Died: 1829)

In 1762, Abd al Rahman Ibrahima Ibn Sori was born within a royal family, son of King Sori, in the village of Timbo in what is today known as the Republic of Guinea in the region of Fouta Djallon (aka Futa Jalon, lit. "the land of the Fulbe and Jalunke"). Ibrahima was born among the Fulbe (aka Fulani, Fula, Fullah, Foulah, sing. Poulas, Peul, Pullo) of the Timbo region. The Fulbe were primarily muslim cattle herders in this West African mountainous region where the Niger river rises and runs eastward. In fact, Guinea's mountains are the source of the Niger, Gambia and Senegal rivers, with its highest point at Mount Nimba. 

Today the cool, mountainous Fouta Djallon region runs roughly 
north-south through the middle of the Republic of Guinea.

According to the book Prince Among Slaves, written by Professor Terry Alford, the non-muslim Jalunke was the majority tribal group within the region where Ibrahima was born. According to Prof. Alford, conflict within the ethnically pluralistic Fulbe-Jalunke society occurred when the Jalunke leadership announced a declaration  forbidding public prayer. Karamoko Alfa, the leading Fulbe cleric, declared jihad against the Jalunke for what was deemed a direct afront to Islam. A ceremonial slashing open of the Fulbe farmer's drums marked the beginning of this great West African war. 

From Fouta Djallon to the Mississippi Delta

By 1788, at the age of 26, Ibrahima was a military leader within the Fulbe army when he was reportedly ambushed, captured and sold to slave traders. Ibrahima was shipped to the United States where he was eventually sold to a Natchez, Mississippi slaver by the name of Thomas Foster. Ibrahima's knowledge of agriculture operations and his leadership skills made him a central figure on Foster's cotton plantation. By 1794, Ibrahima married Isabella, also enslaved on the Foster plantation and would have five sons and four daughters.  

As the story goes, one day Ibrahima was recognized by an Irish surgeon, Dr. John Cox, who had traveled to Timbo during his shipping ventures with an English ship. Cox was aided by Ibrahima's family for six months when he was stranded and fell ill in the Fouta Djallon region. Cox asked Foster to sell Ibrahima to him so that he could free him for return to his West African homeland. Mr. Foster refused. Cox petitioned vigorously on Ibrahima's behalf until his dead in 1816. 

In 1826, a letter Ibrahima wrote in Arabic addressed to his family in West Africa was picked up by Andrew Marschalk, a local newsman who sent a copy to the federal capital in Washington D.C., to the attention of U.S. Senator Thomas Reed. Reed forwarded the correspondence to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco, assuming that Ibrahima was a Moor. Though Ibrahima was not a Moroccan citizen, Sultan of Morocco Abderrahmane was touched by his story and petitioned U.S. President John Quincy Adams to release Ibrahima from the institution of slavery. 

The Prince Among Slaves Returns to West Africa

In 1828, Henry Clay, then U.S. Secretary of State, interceded on behalf of "The Prince", the name given Ibrahima by Natchez, Mississippi residents. Foster stipulated that he would grant Ibrahima's legal release from slavery only if he left without his family and returned to Africa. Despite the Ibrahimas' public speaking efforts to raise enough money to purchase freedom for their nine children before leaving for Africa, they raised only half of the money Foster required for the purchase. 

At age 66, after 40 years in slavery, Ibrahima sailed to Monrovia, Liberia in 1828. He caught a fever and died at the age of 67, never making it to his native village in the Fouta Djallon. His wife Isabella was reunited with two sons and their families whose freedom and transport was financed by the Ibrahimas' funds. The remaining family in Mississippi was inherited by Foster's heirs and scattered across the South before further efforts could be made on their behalf. To his legacy, Ibrahima left behind the narrative of his full story, a rare gem within the legacy of the early colonial history of Africans in America.

For further references:


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More