Far too often, the contributionz of Afrikan people are seldom spoken which can eventually lead to being forgotten. It is essential we know of these Ancestorz, for without their efforts and sacrifice, we would have no clue of who we are and thus, where we're going. Large Boom shot to these greats!
Stay tuned as we update with more periodically! Each one, teach many!
[1583 – December 17, 1663]
Queen Nzingha was born to Ngola (King) Kiluanji and Kangela in 1583. According to tradition, she was named Nzingha because her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck (the Kimbundu verb kujinga meanz to twist or turn). It was said to be an indication that the person who had this characteristic would be proud and haughty, and a wise woman told her mother that Nzingha will become queen one day. According to her recollectionz later in life, she was greatly favored by her father, who allowed her to witness as he governed his kingdom, and who carried her with him to war. She also had a brother, Mbandi and two sisterz Kifunji and Mukambu. She lived during a period when the Atlantic slave trade and the consolidation of power by the Portuguese in the region were growing rapidly.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese position in the slave trade was threatened by England and France. As a result, the Portuguese shifted their slave-trading activities to The Congo and South West Africa. Mistaking the title of the ruler (ngola) for the name of the country, the Portuguese called the land of the Mbundu people "Angola"—the name by which it is still known today.
Nzinga first appearz in historical recordz as the envoy of her brother, the ngiolssa Ngola Mbande, at a peace conference with the Portuguese governor João Correia de Sousa in Luanda in 1599.
The immediate cause of her embassy was her brotherz attempt to get the Portuguese to withdraw the fortress of Ambaca that had been built on his land in 1618 by the Governor Mendes de Vasconcelos, to have some of his subjects [semi-servile groups called kijiko (plural ijiko) in Kimbundu and sometymz called slaves in Portuguese] who had been taken captive during Governor Mendes de Vasconcelos' campaignz (161721) returned and to persuade the governor to stop the marauding of Imbangala mercenaries in Portuguese service. Nzinga's efforts were successful. The governor, Joćo Correia de Sousa, never gained the advantage at the meeting and agreed to her termz, which resulted in a treaty on equal termz. One important point of disagreement was the question of whether Ndongo surrendered to Portugal and accepted vassalage status. A famous story sayz that in her meeting with the Portuguese governor, Joćo Correia de Sousa did not offer a chair to sit on during the negotiationz, and, instead, had placed a floor mat for her to sit, which in Mbundu custom was appropriate only for subordinates. The scene was imaginatively reconstructed by the Italian priest Cavazzi and printed as an engraving in his book of 1687. Not willing to accept this degradation she ordered one of her servants to get down on the ground and sat on the servant's back during negotiationz. By doing this, she asserted her status was equal to the governor, proving her worth as a brave and confident individual.
Nzinga converted to Christianity, possibly in order to strengthen the peace treaty with the Portuguese, and adopted the name Dona Anna de Sousa in honour of the governorz wife when she was baptised, who was also her godmother. She sometymz used this name in her correspondence (or just Anna). The Portuguese never honoured the treaty however, neither withdrawing Ambaca, nor returning the subjects, who they held were slaves captured in war, and they were unable to restrain the Imbangala.
Nzinga's brother committed suicide following this diplomatic impasse, convinced that he would never have been able to recover what he had lost in the war. Rumorz were also said that Nzinga had actually poisoned him, and this was repeated by the Portuguese as groundz for not honoring her right to succeed her brother.
Nzinga assumed control as regent of his young son,Kaza, who was then residing with the Imbangala. Nzinga sent to have the boy in her charge. The son returned, who she is alleged to have killed for his impudence. She then assumed the powers of ruling in Ndongo. In her correspondence in 1624 she fancifully styled herself "Lady of Andongo" (senhora de Andongo), but in a letter of 1626 she now called herself "Queen of Andongo" (rainha de Andongo), a title which she bore from then on.
In 1641, the Dutch, working in alliance with the Kingdom of Kongo, seized Luanda. Nzinga soon sent them an embassy and concluded an alliance with them against the Portuguese who continued to occupy the inland parts of their colony of males with their main headquarterz at the town of Masangano. Hoping to recover lost landz with Dutch help, she moved her capital to Kavanga in the northern part of Ndongo's former domainz.
In 1644 she defeated the Portuguese army at Ngoleme, but was unable to follow up. Then, in 1646, she was defeated by the Portuguese at Kavanga and, in the process, her other sister was captured, along with her archives, which revealed her alliance with Kongo. These archives also showed that her captive sister had been in secret correspondence with Nzinga and had revealed coveted Portuguese planz to her. As a result of the woman's spying, the Portuguese reputedly drowned the sister in the Kwanza River.
However, another account states that the sister managed to escape, and ran away to modern-day Namibia.
The Dutch in Luanda now sent Nzinga reinforcements, and with their help, Nzinga routed a Portuguese army in 1647. Nzinga then laid siege to the Portuguese capital of Masangano. The Portuguese recaptured Luanda with a Brazilian-based assault led by Salvador Correia de Sį, and in 1648, Nzinga retreated to Matamba and continued to resist Portugal. She resisted the Portuguese well into her sixties, personally leading troops into battle.
In 1657, weary from the long struggle, Nzinga signed a peace treaty with Portugal. After the warz with Portugal ended, she attempted to rebuild her nation, which had been seriously damaged by yearz of conflict and over-farming. She was anxious that Njinga Mona's Imbangala not succeed her as ruler of the combined kingdom of Ndongo and Matamba, and inserted language in the treaty that bound Portugal to assist her family to retain power. Lacking a son to succeed her, she tried to vest power in the Ngola Kanini family and arranged for her sister to marry Joćo Guterres Ngola Kanini and to succeed her.
This marriage, however, was not allowed, as priests maintained that Joćo had a wife in Ambaca. She returned to the Christian church to distance herself ideologically from the Imbangala, and took a Kongo priest Calisto Zelotes dos Reis Magros as her personal confessor. She permitted Capuchin missionaries, first Antonio da Gaeta and the Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo to preach to her people. Both wrote lengthy accounts of her life, kingdom, and strong will.
She devoted her efforts to resettling former slaves and allowing women to bear children.
Despite numerous efforts to dethrone her, especially by Kasanje, whose Imbangala band settled to her south, Nzinga would die a peaceful death at age eighty on December 17, 1663 in Matamba. Matamba went though a civil war in her absence, but Francisco Guterres Ngola Kanini eventually carried on the royal line in the kingdom. Her death accelerated the Portuguese occupation of the interior of South West Africa, fueled by the massive expansion of the Portuguese slave trade. Portugal would not have control of the interior until the 20th century.
Today, she is remembered in Angola for her political and diplomatic acumen, great wit and intelligence, as well as her brilliant military tactics. In time, Portugal and most of Europe would come to respect her. A major street in Luanda is named after her, and a statue of her was placed in Kinaxixi on an impressive square. Angolan women are often married near the statue, especially on Thursdays and Fridays.
Nzinga has many variationz on her name and, in some cases, is even known by completely different names, because of the multiple aliases she used in correspondence with the Portuguese. These names include (but are not limited to): Queen Nzinga, Nzinga I, Queen Nzinga Mdongo, Nzinga Mbandi, Nzinga Mbande, Jinga, Singa, Zhinga, Ginga, Njinga, Njingha, Ana Nzinga, Ngola Nzinga, Nzinga of Matamba, Queen Nzinga of Ndongo, Zinga, Zingua, Ann Nzinga, Nxingha, Mbande Ana Nzinga, Ann Nzinga, Anna de Sousa, and Dona Ana de Sousa.
In current Kimbundu language, her name should be spelled Njinga, with the second letter being a soft "j" as the letter is pronounced in French and Portuguese. She wrote her name in several letters as "Ginga". The statue of Njinga now standing in the square of Kinaxixi in Luanda calls her "Mwene Njinga Mbande".
This beautiful woman was a warrior queen that opposed slavery and all the sell out blacks who supported the Portugese. We suggest more research on her during the 1500-1600's when Portugal set off the slave trade. Some of her own family was in the slave trade but for the righteous path of her people she chose principle over family. This is why the men fought for her because she was uncompromising for our freedom.
[December 29, 1923 - February 7, 1986]
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Thieytou, Senegal. Known as "The Pharaoh" of Afrikan studies, Dr. Diop revolutionized the fields of history and Afrikan/Africana/Black studies by providing conclusive proof that the ethnic identity of the first peoples of ancient Kemet (Egypt) -- who established that Classical Civilization -- was Black and Afrikan.
Descended from royal lineage, Diop was a scholar, par excellence, and was trained in history, Egyptology, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, physics, dialetics, rationalism, archeology, mathematics, political science, and economics, and used each of the disciplines, interdepently, in order to revolutionize world history.
The "controversial" nature of its subject matter forced Diop to have to submit his Ph.D thesis three times, but he was undaunted. After completing his academic studies, he went on to a political career, working with the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine (RDA), a nationalist organization that sought independence of Afrika from european powers. Diop, however, was correctly convinced that Afrika could not truly be free until she and her progeny became aware of their role as the Mother of Civilization.
In 1974, Diop and his colleague, Theophile Obenga, of the Congo, put any and all notions of a non-Black Ancient Kemet to rest at a United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) symposium on the peopling of ancient Egypt, where they made their case -- against a number of european scholars. It was at this symposium where Diop presented findings from the "melanin dosage test," a process he invented that measured the concentration of melanin in Egyptian mummies which found in them very high levels of the substance that are consistent with the amount found in Black Afrikans.
Needless to say, the duo's arguments were not only convincing, they went virtually unchallenged. This stark intellectual lopsidedness didn't go unnoticed, as one news report noted a woeful "lack of balance" in the discussion.
Though he became an Ancestor in 1986, Diop left a lasting legacy for his People -- Afrikan People, and all who want to know the truth. He wrote a number of articles and books, including, "The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality," "Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology," "The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity," "Black Africa: From Antiquity to the Formation of the Modern States," "Pre-Colonial Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State," and others which, to date, have yet to be published in languages other than french.
[January 1, 1915 — July 16, 1998] "I only debate my equalz, all otherz I teach..."
Professor John Henrik Clarke was born in Union Springs, Alabama to sharecropper parents, John and Wille Ella. Clarke's family moved to Columbus, Georgia early in the youngster's life.
Wishing to avoid becoming a sharecropper, young John hopped on a train to Harlem at the age of 18. Soon thereafter, Clarke embarked upon a quest for knowledge of Afrikan History - a love affair that he would continue for the balance of his physical life - with a visit to the famed historian, Arturo "Arthur" Schomberg. Professor Clarke also broadened his knowledge-base as an active member of the Harlem History Club, whose members included luminaries such as Hubert Henry Harrison, William Leo Hansberry, Willis Huggins, Charles Seiffert and John G. Jackson, who among others, would serve as jegna's and guides to the budding autodidact.
Dr. Clarke's long career exemplified the fulfillment of the potential of the "everyman." Despite the fact that he was "unlettered" - he never completed high school or college - Clarke's uncanny accumulation of information won the respect of scholars of all stripes, "lettered" or otherwise. His long career included professorships (of history) at Hunter College and at the prestigious Cornell University, both in New York City, and his speeches, interviews, articles, and books have educated and inspired generations of Afrikans all over the globe.
Dr. Clarke is, perhaps, best remembered for his Afrikan storyteller speaking style, as he wove context into historical facts with the rhythm and timbre of a skilled musician, captivating audiences with a disarming combination of southern charm, cool confidence, and sharp wit (the above quote, for example).
Dr. Clarke received numerous awards and accolades and his encyclopedic knowledge caused greats such as Kwame Nkruma, Ghana's first post-colonial president, and Omowale Malcolm X to tap into his breadth and depth of knowledge for counsel on.
Additionally, Clarke authored and/or edited several articles and nearly 25 books, including "My Life in Search of Africa," "Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust," "Africans at the Crossroad: Notes on an African World Revolution," "Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa," "Rebellion in Rhyme the Early Poetry of John Henrik Clarke," "New Dimensions in African History," and more. Dr. Clarke's life and philosophy are also brilliantly documented in the film "John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk," by Wesley Snipes, and in the book, "Dr. John Henrik Clarke: His Life, His Words, His Works" by Anna Swanston, who for years was his personal secretary.
He was twice married and had three children.
Dr. Clarke Transitioned to the Ancestral Realm on July 16, 1998 and his name will forever be Honored as one of the great "self-taught" scholars of the Afrikan Studies movement. Clarke's work and philosophy can be summed up in this oft-referenced quote: "the events that happened 5 years ago, 500 years ago, or 5,000 years ago are DIRECTLY related to the events that will happen five, five hundred, or 5,000 years from now; ALL history is a current event!"
— Ka'Ba Akintunde
A couple notable quotables:
"Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people they oppress because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power. You will take it."
"Black Studies should never have been called Black Studies, it is what is known as the missing pages of world history."
— Sybil Williams-Clarke, wife of Dr. John Henrik Clarke
The Dahomey Amazonz were an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) which lasted until end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observerz and historianz due to their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazonz of Ancient Greece. King Houegbadja (1645 to 1685), the third King of Dahomey, is said to have originally started the group which would become the Amazonz as a corps of royal bodyguardz after building a new palace. Houegbadja's son King Agadja (1708 to 1732) developed these bodyguardz into a militia and successfully used them in Dahomey's defeat of the neighbouring kingdom of Savi in 1727.Tthey gained the reputation as fearless warriorz. Though they fought rarely, they usually acquitted themselves well in battle. From the time of King Ghezo (1818 to 1858), Dahomey became increasingly militaristic. Ghezo placed great importance on the army and increased its budget and formalized its structures.
The women warriorz were rigorously trained and given uniformz. By this time the Amazonz consisted of between 4000 and 6000 women, about a third of the entire Dahomey army. European encroachment into west Africa gained pace during the latter half of the 19th century, and in 1890 King Behanzin started fighting French forces in the course of the First Franco-Dahomean War.
Many of the French soldierz fighting in Dahomey hesitated before shooting or bayoneting the Amazonz. The resulting delay led to many of the French casualties. Ultimately, bolstered by the Foreign Legion, and armed with superior weaponry, including machine gunz, the French inflicted casualties that were ten tymz worse on the Dahomey side. After several battles, the French prevailed. The Legionnaires later wrote about the "incredible courage and audacity" of the Amazonz. The last surviving Amazon died in 1979. Memberz could enroll voluntarily, or were involuntarily enrolled (conscripted) if their husbandz complained to the King about their behaviour. Membership of the Amazonz was supposed to hone any aggressive character traits for the purpose of war. During their membership they were not allowed to have children or be part of married life. Many of the Amazonz were virgins.
The regiment had a semi-sacred status, which was intertwined with the belief in Vodun.The Amazonz trained with intense physical exercise. Discipline was emphasised. In the latter period, the Amazonz were armed with Winchester rifles, clubs, and knives. Units were under female command and captives were often decapitated.
[August 3, 1832 February 7, 1912]
Here is an African from Sierra Leone, who stirred controversy and lively debate in the Krio community by opposing the indiscriminate emulation of European culture. He told the Krios that they were "de-Afrikanized," scolded them for holding themselves aloof from the people in the provinces, and advised them to remember alwayz that "you are Afrikanz."
Edward Wilmot Blyden was not only one of the most original thinkerz of his time; he was undisputedly the foremost Afrikan intellectual of the 19th century. His brilliant career, in both Liberia and Sierra Leone spanned the fieldz of religion, education, journalizm, politics, and philosophy. He is best remembered as an Afrikan patriot whose writingz contributed to the rise of Pan-Africanizm and continues to inspire many generationz. The term "Pan-Africanizm" was coined after Blyden's death, but a review of his work revealz that he had the greatest influence on the creation of the ideas which we now associate with Pan Africanizm. His writingz are reported to have also influenced the popular lyrics of reggae superstar, Bob Marley.
Edward Blyden's life is a constant source of new perspectives even long after his death. His biography revealz both a vision of Afrika and the personal struggle by which that vision came about. Few men of his era were able to "learn to unlearn" the complex of European constructionz and misconstructionz of the meaning of Afrika. The same challenges that motivated Blyden to champion the Afrikan contribution to humanity are still with us today. Many of his observationz are surprisingly fresh and painfully relevant. Blyden was a prolific writer of letterz, and published many articles, sermonz, poemz, and books that make up an extensive legacy to the human race. His legacy can be found in dozenz of libraries and museumz worldwide.
Edward Wilmot Blyden's story is remarkable. He was born in the Virgin Islands in the West Indies, a descendant of Ibo slaves from Nigeria. He was an extremely gifted student, and at age of eighteen, attempted to enroll at a theological college in the United States. Upon realizing that their potential student was a black man, the college in North America out rightly rejected him. According to reports, at this time, slavery was still lawful in the USA and his brazen attempt to try to fight the 'system' subjected him to many frightening experiences.
A few months after his attempt to enroll was rejected, one white man named Reverend Holden, who recognized the high intellect in Blyden, assisted Blyden to emigrate to Liberia. Blyden thus boarded a ship with the intention of building a new life for himself in Africa. This young man remained in Liberia for more than thirty yearz, rising gradually to the highest levelz of Liberian society.
During his Liberian career, Blyden was a Presbyterian minister, a newspaper editor, a professor of classics, President of Liberia College, Ambassador to Great Britain, Minister of the Interior, and Secretary of State. In 1885, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency. It is reported that he lost the Liberian Presidential Elections by just a handful of votes. Fearing for his safety in light of his immense popularity which competed with the winner of the Presidential Elections, Blyden fled to Sierra Leone. He was already well known in Sierra Leone, where he had earlier spent two yearz (1871-73) as Government Agent to the Interior, leading two official expeditionzone to Falaba and another to Futa Jallon. Thus, it was easy for Blyden to become based permanently in Freetown. Blyden was in many ways a greater intellectual force in Sierra Leone than in Liberia.
However, in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the United States, Edward Wilmot Blyden was not without controversy. Infact, in some wayz, the name Edward Blyden is synonymous with controversy. A brave and outspoken man who lived well before his time, Blyden did not allow the status quo to sway him from saying exactly what was on his mind. He was gifted with amazing oratoral skillz which he would readily use to publicly make his points. Blyden believed that posterity would reward those who spoke with their conscience even if what was said was against powerful forces. Therefore, he traveled far and wide giving lectures and undertaking controversial actionz. Naturally, for such a controversial figure who preached ideas that were way ahead of his time, he inspired mixed feelingz in many. Some people hated him with a passion whilst others granted him near-messiah status. He had a deep conviction that men had a responsibility to future generationz of the human race to alwayz say and do what their conscience dictated.
After the 1887 publication of his masterpiece, Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race, some Krios under Blyden's captivating influence began to adopt African names and even to emulate traditional African dress. Although earlier pictures of him sport him with European outfits, in his latter dayz, he wore only African outfits.
Blyden looked forward to the rise of an independent West African nation and he urged the British to allow Afrikanz more autonomy in political and church matterz, and argued against the imposition of European culture. As early as 1872, Blyden called for an independent West African University to be run solely by Afrikanz, teaching Afrikan languages, cultures, and values. Blyden, though a Christian himself, viewed Muslimz as more authentically Afrikan, and he urged the British authorities to involve Muslim Afrikanz in their colonial enterprise. Blyden taught himself to speak Arabic, and maintained close relationz for many yearz with the Muslim community in Freetown.
In his later yearz, he was Director of Mohammedan Education in Sierra Leone. When Edward Wilmot Blyden died on February 7, 1912, his funeral was attended by many hundredz of people from throughout the Freetown community, including both Muslimz, who bore the coffin, and his fellow Christianz. In a further reflection of how the respect Blyden commanded cut across race and colour, his monument sitting in front of the Freetown City Council was erected by his European white friendz whilst the marble stoned monument at his graveside was erected by his Muslim friendz. Edward Wilmot Blyden is dead but as the Internet Search Engines reveal, thousandz and thousandz of later generationz of black intellectualz, in Afrika, America, Europe, and beyond continue to look up to Edward Blyden for inspiration.