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History, Advent of Europeans

Bakongo, Jaga, missionary work, missionaries, onslaught

When the Portuguese arrived in 1483, seeking the legendary kingdom of Prester John, as well as precious metals, they found the realm of the Bakongo well established. The ruler of the state welcomed the newcomers, and in 1491 Portuguese traders and missionaries bearing gifts were sent to the court of Manikongo (“king”) Nzinga Nkuwu, who converted to Christianity. Also converting was the succeeding manikongo, Afonso I, who also accepted Portuguese guidance in the administration of his realm. The Portuguese, however, were more interested in profit from a booming trade in slaves than in either missionary work or spreading European civilization. The slave traffic, aided by local chiefs, gradually undermined the authority of the manikongo, and 25 years after Afonso’s death the state succumbed to the onslaught of the Jaga, a fierce group of nomads from the east.

Article key phrases:

Bakongo, Jaga, missionary work, missionaries, onslaught, Christianity, precious metals, realm, gifts, ruler, newcomers, slaves, authority, state, east, profit, years, administration


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