Queen Nzinga: African Ruler and Slave Trader

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Hailing from the African state of Ndongo and born in 1581 during the start of Luandan disagreement with Portuguese settlers (Toler 265), Queen Nzinga of the African Mbundu tribe stood up for her country and reestablished power over her people. Nzinga came in a time period that needed her. She got her country of Matamba (present day Angola) equal, both economically and socially, to the Portuguese. In order to do this, Nzinga took measures to place herself in the right position to eventually seize rule and steer her country in the right direction, even though it prompted a steady flow of opposition from her enemies. These initial enemies included the Imbangala tribes and irritated Portuguese Settlers, both of which she succeeded in…show more content…
For example, Nzinga ran her army based on Imbangala combat mechanisms (Strickert 2). The Imbangala have a stystem according to which they are loyal and pay tribute to whoever provides them a spiritual and physical realm of sanctuary, which Nzinga accomodated(Skidmore-Hess 307). More importantly, however, Nzinga created out of these Imbangala bowmen an army that helped her during battle (Strickert 1) and benefited her in capturing slaves to sell and trade(Skidmore-Hess 301). This slave trade is where Nzinga’s next and final partnership stemmed from: the Dutch. They were mesmerized by the prosperous slave trade Nzinga oversaw, and upon agreeing to trade with them in 1641, they became Nzinga’s strongest allies, and battled with her against her Portuguese enemies until the dutch were defeated in 1648 (Toler 267). This demonstrates how essential it is to form strong alliances and how it will benefit a country in the long run. While she is credited for the good treatment of her slaves and is presented as a slave advocate, Queen Nzinga was a strong supporter of the slave trade and occasionally demonstrated severe cases of slave abuse. This “slave advocacy” image of Nzinga is evident when World history association member and history journalist Pamela D. Toler writes that “Nzinga encouraged [slaves] to run away and enjoy freedom at home rather than remaining as Portuguese captives” (267). Nzinga’s mistreatment of slaves is lightly touched on in

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