(Get this illustration of Nzingha on our Instagram page: @bissu_art)
The last African queen we will be highlighting today is Nziga of the Ndongo and Matamba people of Angola.
She was born into the royal family in 1583. Her father, the king favoured her highly and always had her close by while he was governing the kingdom and even took her to war with him sometimes. After her father was ousted, she had to flee the kingdom in 1610 after her brother ascended to the throne as she also had a legitimate claim to the throne.
Around the time that she was still living in her home, Portugese consolidation of power had grown rapidly.
Nzingha later returned to play envoy for her brother and the first person she met with was the Portuguese governor in 1622. She was sent to offer a treaty of peace and the Portugese were stunned by her self-assurance. Though an agreement was finally met that day, the Portugese never honoured it and continued to take slaves and raid villages in the kingdom.
Her brother eventually committed suicide, the weight of his kingdom in turmoil too much for him to bear, and Nzingha took over as regent until her nephew (her brother’s son) would come of age. Her military campaigns kept the Portuguese in Africa at bay for more than four decades. Her goal was the final and complete eradication of the Portuguese capture and enslavement of African people.
Nzingha sent ambassadors and representatives throughout West and Central Africa with the goal of building a massive coalition of Africans to eject the Portuguese.
Nzingha died fighting for her people in 1663 at the ripe old age of 81.