Queen Nzinga

Born: 1583

Died: 17th December 1663

Birth Place: Angola

Known for: Resisting Portuguese invasion and slave raids for thirty years.

Nzinga was baptised as Ana de Sousa Nzingha Mbande.

She developed an independent state and resisted colonialism.

She was an astute diplomat and visionary military leader.

Queen Nzinga

Life story


Queen Nzinga of Angola was a great monarch who fought against the European slave trade expansion in Central and West Africa. When her kingdom came under attack from both the Portuguese and other African tribes, Nzinga used her army and negotiation to maintain the independence of her kingdom.


Forming Matamba


Portugal betrayed Nzinga and she was forced to move west with her people, where they made a new home and state, called Matamba, well beyond the reach of the Portuguese. Nzinga focused on developing Matamba as a trading power by capitalising on its position as the gateway to Central Africa.


Nzinga offered a home to runaway enslaved people and Portuguese-trained African soldiers, and changed the way they fought to make them more successful. She also found a friend in the Netherlands, who was at war with Portugal.


Nzinga’s legacy


Nzinga inspired her people to resist colonialism. Renowned for her compassion and bravery, she was an astute diplomat and visionary military leader.


Despite repeated attempts to capture or kill Queen Nzinga, she died peacefully in her eighties in 1663. By the time of her death, Matamba was an independent, powerful state that dealt with the Portuguese on an equal footing. Her legacy is a symbol of strength and liberty, honoured and respected throughout Africa.

Why do you think she was a good queen? What qualities can be used to describe her leadership? Would you consider her a symbol of liberty, if so why?

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