Black Looks: Kimpa Vita – a profile of courage

Today, July 2nd, is the anniversary of the death of Kimpa Vita who together with her baby (Kembo Dianzenza va Kintete) and her boyfriend, were burned to death on July 2nd 1706 by the Catholic church. I only just found out about Kimpa Vita – there is so much of our African and Diaspora history that is unknown to the majority of African people. Who was Kimpa Vita? Information is scarce but Kimpa Vita is one of a long line of courageous politicised Queens of the Kongo (parts of present day Angola and Congo) who fought against slavery and colonialists as early as the 15th century. Women such as Ndona Nzinga, Ndona Mafuta and Ndona Dondwa. The importance of Kimpa Vita is that she fought against slavery and exposed the racism and misogyny of the Catholic Church and also incorporated traditional religions with Christianity.

Beatrice Kimpa Vita was born in 1684 in the kingdom of Kongo. In 1704, at the age of 20 years, she started her non-violent mission of the liberation and the restoration of the kingdom, destroyed by the Portuguese. She fought all the forms of slavery, from those of the local practices to those linked to the European domination. She adapted Christianity to the African realities, teaching people that there are also Black saints in paradise, contradicting the Catholic priests who taught that there should ONLY be WHITE SAINTS. She led thousands of people to rebuild and to repopulate Mbanza Kongo, the capital, whereas King Pedro IV, imposed by the Catholic Church, had taken refuge in the mountains. That is a rare phenomenon, in a social context where the women were supposed to be submissive to the men.

Today she is remembered in “Kanda commune, northern Zaire Province” of Angola

I would really be interested in finding out more about these African Queens so if any one knows anything please do leave a comment.

(Sokari Ekine writes and organizes at Black Looks: This post appeared originally there.)

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About Sokari Ekine

Sokari Ekine is a Nigerian writer, blogger, activist, who runs Black Looks.