When the Kongo King wrote to the King of Portugal against Slavery

Mbanza Kongo, capital of the Kingdom of Kongo, in 1745

King Mvemba a Nzinga, most commonly known as Afonso I of Kongo, or Nzinga Mbemba, was a Kongo king who ruled over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543. He wrote a letter in 1526 to the Portuguese king decrying the capture of his subjects to be taken as slaves in the transatlantic slave trade. The Portuguese were also assisting brigands in Kongo and illegally purchasing free people as slaves. This letter contradicts the story that African kings sold their own into slavery, as has been re-told countless times in history books; moreover, this is also similar to Queen Nzingha‘s stance against slavery a century later; she fought almost 40 years against the Portuguese for the freedom of her people.  Afonso I of Kongo wrote:

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“Each day the traders are kidnapping our people – children of this country, sons of our nobles and vassals, even people of our own family. This corruption and depravity are so widespread that our land is entirely depopulated. We need in this kingdom only priests and schoolteachers, and no merchandise, unless it is wine and flour for Mass. It is our wish that this Kingdom not be a place for the trade or transport of slaves.”
Many of our subjects eagerly lust after Portuguese merchandise that your subjects have brought into our domains. To satisfy this inordinate appetite, they seize many of our black free subjects…. They sell them. After having taken these prisoners [to the coast] secretly or at night….. As soon as the captives are in the hands of white men they are branded with a red-hot iron.

Afonso was also concerned about the depopulation of his kingdom through the exportation of his own citizens into slavery. The king of Portugal responded to Afonso’s concerns, writing that because the Kongo purchased their slaves from outside of the kingdom and converted them to Christianity and then intermarried with them, the kingdom probably maintained a high population and probably was not affected by the missing subjects. To lessen Afonso’s concerns, the king [of Portugal] suggested sending two men to a designated point in the city to monitor who was being traded and who could object to any sale involving a subject of Afonso’s kingdom. The king of Portugal then wrote that if he were to cease the slave trade from the inside of the Kongo, he would still require provisions from Afonso, such as wheat and wine.

Strong African Women and History Amnesia, Patriarchy, Sexism, and Racism: the Case of Winnie Mandela

Winnie Mandela_5
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

The world celebrates men. Men can be ambitious, they can work to liberate their countries, they can be revolutionaries, and lead people. No one is against that. The world applauds these men. But when women fight for the liberation of their countries, they are vilified; they are called all sorts of names. It’s as if the world suffers from selective amnesia. We have a woman who is at the same level as all the world revolutionaries, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

Just taking a look back at history, men, white supremacy, and patriarchy do not like strong women, and particularly strong black women. For instance, in the 1660s, white men described (and it can still be read in history books) the great Angolan warrior Queen Nzingha who fought for her people’s freedom and fought the Portuguese against slavery, as an angry, power-hungry, and over-sexed woman who would sleep with one new soldier every night, and have him killed the next morning. Such absurdity! Wouldn’t that diminish her troops, troops strongly needed to fight against the Portuguese?

Queen Nzingha of Angola
Queen Nzingha of Angola

Next, we have the great queen Taytu Betul, the queen without whom there would have been no Battle of Adwa, where Ethiopia defeated Italy, the first victory of an African nation on a European one. There again, European historians describe Queen Taytu Betul as a man-eater, a woman with a black heart, manipulative, hateful, and conniving.

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Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

In both cases, the truth is that they are afraid of the power of the Black woman; these historians vilify Black women. The patriarchal and white supremacy system hates Winnie Madikizela-Mandela because she fought like no other, like no man would have. She was strong, and brave, and a woman of principle. To them, she was a woman, she should have stayed home, and not joined and fought tirelessly for freedom. Even though she was cleared of the murder of Stompi, she is hated while Nelson Mandela is sanctified, but everybody forgets that Nelson Mandela was once the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe the armed branch of the ANC. We do not hate that fact, because we know that, that was what was needed at the time for the apartheid regime to fall. So why do people applaud Nelson Mandela, and honor him, while they hate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who kept his name alive while he was in jail 27 years, and fought like not many human beings (not even him) would have fought? The world applauds him, because he is a man. The world should also celebrate her, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Stop the sexist history, the patriarchist history, the racist history. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a world revolutionary, and should be applauded for her stance all those years, for her hard work, her determination, her principle, and her love of her people. She should be celebrated. Please do watch what EFF leader Julius Malema has to say about it.