Kingdom of Kongo 1300s - 1600s

h6_acko_map.jpg
Our west coast location on the continent of Africa.


Within our Kin-based society, trade has much importance, allowing us to make use of the goods created by our brothers.
Within our Kin-based society, trade has much importance, allowing us to make use of the goods created by our brothers.

Friends

Portuguese
Christianity
African Slaves
Catholics
Bantus

Technology

Before the arrival of the Portuguese, we had been producing textiles and high-quality steel for centuries. However, now that they have taken over our community, they bring us their own textiles and metal goods such as guns and swords in exchange for slaves, ivory, and copper. They use their advanced technology against our "stone age" tools to capture our men and take them away. Our spears and knives are no math for their loud and fatal guns. Also with the arrival of these Portuguese-speaking foreigners was new food crops from the Americas, which are being produced with the men they enslave from us. These new crops such as manioc, maize, and peanuts arrive here and help supplement our native foods. Manioc is very helpful because it is plentiful and grows well in our soil and warm weather.

Culture

For many years, we had a stateless society made up of self-governing villages with small populations. Males were the heads of families and dominated the public affairs of the community. Later, small states formed that governed multiple villages but conflict between the small states forced the organization of larger kingdoms, and the Kingdom of Kongo was formed. Our central state oversaw military judicial, and financial affairs and the currency was based on cowries, which were seashells from the Indian Ocean. We began trading copper, raffia cloth and nzimbu shells with other kingdoms, and after the Portuguese arrived, we traded copper, slaves, and ivory as well. The slave trade became very important to the community because it tore apart families and eventually led to two thirds of the population being women. In addition, many natives captured their friends and neighbors to save themselves from the Portuguese. Thus, the arrival of the Portuguese in our community only brought problems.

Religion

Although not as common as those who converted to Christianity, Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa reflected the interests of local converts. Africans who converted to Islam continued to take protective measures against the workings of evil spirits and witches and they participated in rituals designed to please nature deities and departed ancestors. Islam tended to be more popular in commercial centers and blended with our indigenous beliefs and customs. When the Portuguese came to our community, they supported priests and missionaries who introduced Roman Catholic Christianity which served as a foundation for commercial and political alliances with Portugal. Like Islamic teachings, Christian teachings blended with our traditions to form syncretic cults. During the Antonian movement, Dona Beatriz gained a reputation for working miracles and curing diseases. She used her prominence to promote an African form of Christianity and taught that Jesus Christ had been a black African man and that Kongo was the actual holy land of Christianity. After the missionaries here discovered that she was a false prophet, she was burned at the stake.

Blog

Blog Entry One (Late 1400s): Portuguese merchants have wheedled their way into our community and established a close political and diplomatic relationship with our king due to the trust we had for them. The Portuguese are proceeding to mislead us by supplying our kings with advisors and a military garrison to "support" him which actually functions to protect Portuguese interests. To persuade the natives, they have brought tailors, shoemakers, masons, miners, and priests here to Kongo. What they really want is our natural resources and men for slaves.

Blog Entry Two (1500s): Our kings have now converted to Christianity as a way to establish a closer commercial relationship with Portuguese merchants and a diplomatic relationship with Portuguese monarchy. King Nzinga Mbemba of Kongo who is also known as King Alfonso I, has become a devout Roman Catholic and wants all of his subjects to convert to Christianity as well. It is clear that our native religions are being influenced by these foreign ways. The Portuguese try to make their religion more appealing to us by interweaving our traditions into, but it doesn't feel the same.

Blog Entry Three (1665): Our relationship with the Portuguese is clearly deteriorating as time goes on. They don't seem to be interested in our community any more and are beginning to pursue opportunities to the south. They even started a war with us from the south in which they defeated our armies and decapitated our king. It is becoming evident that the Portuguese merchants are withdrawing themselves from Kongo in search of more "profitable" business in the kingdom of Ndongo to the south.

The Wall

We would like to commend you for the superiority of your governing system and for moving away from the weakness of the common village. It is obvious that your central government has set high standards and far stronger than the rest of ours. Although it is warming to have a smaller, more bonded community, we are envious of the strength of your kingdom.
-Bantus

We would like to offer you a share of our great and prosperous plans for the development of trade across the Atlantic. In return for a vast amount of imports you will have the opportunity of acquiring, we would like to establish trading ports along the western coast of your Kingdom. We are more than happy to supply your king with advisors and any other support your kingdom may need. We are looking forward to working with you.
-Portuguese

Hello again! This time we have come to offer you something that may bring our communities closer together. We would like you to convert to Christianity, Roman Catholicism to be more specific. Together we can be seen as equals before god and practice our religion together in hopes to be saved and welcomed to heaven together as a community. We will gladly supply you with priests and missionaries to help you get accustomed to the wonders of Christianity. You will soon come to realize, the superiority of this religion and the benefits that come along with it.
-Portuguese


Sources


http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai/freedom/images/cavazzimarketsm.jpg

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/acko/h6_acko_map.jpg

Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006.