NJINGA – QUEEN OF ANGOLA

download (2)Njinga-Rainha De Angola  (Njinga: Queen of Angola) 100
In the 17th century a warrior woman fights for the independence of Angola.
After witnessing the murder of her son and watching her people being humiliated by Portuguese colonizers, Njinga will become a Queen and struggle for their liberation embodying the motto: those who stay fight to win.

7PM at the Buriel Clay Theater (A.A.A.C.C.)
NJINGA - QUEEN OF ANGOLA

Foreign Titles: Portuguese
NJINGA – RAINHA DE ANGOLA

Summary
In the 17th century a warrior woman fights for the independence of Angola.
After witnessing the murder of her son and watching her people being humiliated by Portuguese colonizers, Njinga will become a Queen and struggle for their liberation embodying the motto: those who stay fight to win.

Synopsis
The action takes place in the 17Th century, region of Ndongo and Matamba, present day Angola. A woman leads her kingdom in a 40 year long struggle for independence, and freedom for her people. Her name is Njinga. She will be known as Queen Njinga.

Our story begins in 1617, year of the death of Njinga’s father, king Kilwanji. He was a fierce fighter against the Portuguese, and their onslaught against the Ndongo, designed to capture slaves for sugar cane plantations in Brazil. His passing was to bring the succession issue to the fore. The board of makotas, responsible for choosing the future king, is torn between three choices: Nguri, a child and son of the king’s wife, and two children of a slave, Mbandi and Njinga, the sovereign’s favorite.

As the board withers, the ambitious Mbandi imposes his will and usurps power. Following his enthronement, and at the prodding of his principal advisor, or manilungo, Njinga’s son, Kanjila, and all the kings’ opponents are murdered, to minimize threats to his power. Njinga retreats to the Quindonga Islands, with her two sisters, her advisor Njali, and her entourage.

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The subsequent times were marked by the decline of Mbandi’s military power vis-à-vis the Portuguese. Under the orders of the Portuguese governor in Luanda, Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos, a fortress-prison is rebuilt in Mbaka near Mbandi’s court, deepening the conflict between the parties. In the Battle of Mbaka (1618) Mbandi’s forces are thoroughly defeated, and the king escapes to the Quindonga Islands. He then asks his sister Njinga to go to Luanda to try and negotiate peace with the Portuguese.

Njinga believes without any doubt that Mbandi ordered the killing of her son Kanjila, but she stifles her inner revolt, and for the good of the people of Ndongo, agrees to go to Luanda. In 1622, she is welcomed by then Portuguese governor João Correia de Sousa, in a historically famous occasion marked by formalism and demonstrations of good will by the two parties. Njinga stayed in Luanda for some time, and was eventually baptized in a purely political act to appease the whims of the Portuguese. As she returns to Ndongo, everything seems to move towards an understanding with the Portuguese, but Mbandi does not fulfill his part of the bargain and declares war on Muene Puto, as the Portuguese or their representatives were also known. It was an unbalanced war between unevenly matched adversaries. Mbandi was defeated, weakened, and died of poisoning.

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With Mbandi’s death, Njinga takes over the reign of Ndongo almost naturally. Her legitimacy as queen, though without the agreement of the Portuguese, is accepted by many chiefs and the people in general. This is where Njinga ‘falls in love’ with Jaga KasaCangola, a warrior, former military ally of Mbandi, and tutor of his son and crown prince, Kalu. The union between the two translates into a marriage, and increased military power and territory for Njinga. However the union was not to last and ended in tragedy. Kalu died; KasaCangola blamed Njinga for the murder and left her. The warrior was heartbroken.

In 1624, Njinga tried a new approach with the Portuguese, now represented by Governor Fernão de Sousa. She wished to persuade him to withdraw his forces from the Mbaka fortress/prison. In exchange Fernão de Sousa demands the return of slaves who fled to Njinga’s court in search of freedom, and respectful treatment. But the parties cannot reach an agreement.

Fernão de Sousa then appoints Ngola-a-Ari, a local ruler, or soba, as king of Ndongo, without the consent of the other chiefs or Njinga herself. Thus begins a period of constant and bloody battles, and Njinga was eventually expelled from the kingdom’s land, by Captain Banha Cardoso. Increasingly ‘trapped’ in the Quindonga Islands, the queen decides to launch new round of dialogue with the Portuguese. She sent Njali, her manilungo, to Mbaka to try the reconciliation, but the Portuguese sensing her vulnerability replied by sending back the head of her envoy. Weakened and without resources, Njinga escaped a Portuguese attack but her sisters were kidnaped and taken to Luanda. It is in this context that Njinga teams up with one of the most fearsome leaders of a neighboring people in the territory: the Jaga Kassanje

With the help of the Jaga Kassanje military, Njinga begins the conquest of Matamba while his sisters are still being held in Luanda, where they were baptized. It would be only in 1632-33, that Kambo was released and rejoined Njinga. Kifunji remains a Portuguese hostage but becomes a spy for her sister and queen, sending her letters with important information about the governance of the Portuguese territory.

For nearly a decade, Njinga extends her power in the territory, becoming the ‘Queen of Matamba ‘, and eventually splits from Jaga Kassanje. The Portuguese, harried by Njinga’s success, allied themselves with Dutch invaders also looking for slaves, to try and defeat the queen, but Njinga always escapes. However, her sister Kambo is abducted again, and worse yet Kifunji dies after being thrown into the river by the Portuguese when they discover that she was a spy.

With the withdrawal of the Dutch from Luanda in 1648, and the arrival of Governor Correia de Sá, relations between the Portuguese and Njinga came into a more diplomatic phase. Although unable to reach wide ranging agreements, this is positively a low-conflict phase, with Njinga allowing the free passage of Capuchin monks through her territory, as well as the establishment of trade between Luanda and Matamba.

In 1655, aged 73, Njinga sends a letter to a new governor, Luis Martins Chichorro, and that sets the tone for the end of the war between the two parties. The Portuguese eventually release Kambo, and the queen is reunited with her sister.

After nearly 40 years of struggle, queen Njinga can finally make peace with the Portuguese who recognize her as the true sovereign of Matamba and Ndongo.