Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by I-khan, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. I-khan

    I-khan Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Dec 27, 2005
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    Ann Zingha

    NZINGHA, better known as Ann Zingha, renowned warrior queen of Matamba, was born about 1582, when the Portuguese were establishing trade settlements on the African coast and otherwise encroaching on native territory.
    When Ann grew up she did not sit idly by watching the invaders at work. Extremely wroth, she led her army of fierce woman warriors, which she had assiduously trained, into action against them, and won battle after battle. But in the long run she lost since spears were hardly a match for firearms. In 1622 her brother, the King of Angola, sent her to arrange a peace with the Portuguese viceroy at Loanda. A dwelling befitting her royal rank was prepared for her and she and her escort were received with due honors, which pleased her. But when she entered the viceroy's audience chamber, Ann, who was quite temperamental, was indignant. She noticed that while a magnificent chair of state had been arranged for the viceroy, there was merely a cushion on the floor for her. The fact that the cushion was made of gold-embroidered velvet and had been put in the center of a handsome carpet did not placate her.

    Though she felt that she had been slighted, she did not make a scene. Instead, she gave one of her attendants a meaningful look. The woman came over, knelt down on her hands and knees, and Ann Zingha sat herself down on the woman's back and waited thus for the viceroy to appear. If on his arrival he thought it strange for his honored guest to be seated in this way, he politely refrained from comment and began talking business. As a matter of fact, Ann Zingha did not appear at all ludicrous in her disadvantageous position. She acted with such spirit and dignity that the viceroy was impressed, and negotiations were terminated satisfactorily. Not given to bickering, Ann had refused outright an alliance with the Portuguese, one of the terms of which was the payment of an annual tribute to the King of Portugal. She persuaded the viceroy that this ought to be eliminated, emphasizing that the giving up of her Portuguese prisoners was concession enough. When the audience was ended, the viceroy arose and conducted Ann Zingha from the room. Looking back, he saw to his astonishment that the attendant she had used as a throne had not moved an inch. When he mentioned this, Ann Zingha drew herself up haughtily and said, "It is not meet that the ambassadress of a great king should be served with the same seat twice. I have no further use for the woman."

    The viceroy was so astonished at this that he quite forgot to thank her for the unusual, if somewhat shopworn, gift.
    During her stay in Loanda Ann Zingha embraced Christianity. Whether she did this from inner conviction or as a matter of policy is not known. At any rate, she was baptized and adopted European customs. Not long after her return to Angola, her brother died and she seized the throne. To simplify matters, she disposed of her nephew by strangling him, or so it is said. If this was not in the true Christian spirit, neither was a similar deed committed by her famous contemporary, Elizabeth of England, who got rid of her rival, Mary Stuart, by having her head chopped off. Drastic methods were in the best tradition of the times.

    No one who knew the Portuguese ever expected permanent peace as a result of the treaty between the viceroy and Ann Zingha. They were tricky customers, just like all the rest of the Europeans, and when you gave them a square inch, they took a square mile. They did not like to see Ann Zingha on the throne because she was independent and could not be hoodwinked or bluffed into paying tribute. So, deciding that it was better to have her out of the way sooner than later, they sent an army against her. But allying herself with the Dutch and the native chiefs, she fought back in a war that dragged on for years. Her amazons were terrible in battle, and whenever the Portuguese saw them coming, they were struck with fear. Finally the Portuguese were victorious and offered to let her stay on the throne if she would pay annual tribute. Rather than submit to this extortion, she fled into the bush, and gathering another army, repelled the invaders for the next eighteen years, refusing even to consider any overtures. With the somewhat dubious examples of Christian behavior provided by the Portuguese before her, Ann Zingha tempestuously dropped the faith she had embraced and had those of her people who clung to Christianity killed. Time and again the Christian missionaries among her captives tried to win her back to Christianity, but in vain. She held out as firm as a rock against their exhortations. But then her sister, of whom she was very fond, died. This, perhaps, and the mellowness of advancing age--she was now nearly seventy--softened her heart.

    Acting upon a suggestion from the missionaries, she again declared herself a convert, and was restored to the throne by the Portuguese. To show that she was sincere, she set about reforming her people. She ordered the adoption of Christianity, abolished the sacrifice of captives and criminals, and prohibited polygamy. When this latter injunction offended her subjects, she set an example herself by marrying one of her courtiers, though she was seventy-six at the time. She strictly observed her treaties with the Portuguese but could not be induced, even by her priests, to pay tribute or recognize the over-lordship of the Portuguese. But when one of her chiefs took it in his head to attack some Portuguese in 1657, she went so far as to make war against him, and when he was captured, had him decapitated and sent his head to the viceroy. During her last years she sent an emissary to the Pope asking for more missionaries for her kingdom. When the Pope's answer came, Ann Zingha appeared in church, amidst great pomp and pageantry, and had it read publicly. There was much celebrating, and at a festival attending this occasion, she staged a mock battle in which her woman warriors, dressed in full war regalia, were the star participants. Ann Zingha led them herself, and though she was past eighty, she displayed astonishing agility and skill and was superior to many of her youthful followers. Ann Zingha died in 1663 at the age of eighty-one. Her body was shown to her mourning subjects arrayed in royal robes, her hands clasping a bow and arrow. When the time for burial came, she was clothed in the Capuchin habit, as she had requested, with a crucifix and rosary in her hands. John Ogilby, an Englishman who lived at that time and wrote a good deal about the native rulers of Africa, said of her, "She is a cunning and prudent virago so much addicted to the use of arms that she hardly uses other exercise, and withal so generously valiant that she never hurt a Portuguese after quarter was given and commanded all her slaves and soldiers the like." After her death Angola fell completely into the power of the Portuguese, in whose possession it still is.
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    Thank you for sharing this.