02.05.

1491: Nkuwu Nzinga, Ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo Baptized as João

1491: Nkuwu Nzinga, Ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo Baptized as João
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 02 May 1491
  • King Nzinga a Nkuwu (Nkuwu Nzinga) was baptized as João (John) on this day in 1491. At the same time, his wife Queen Nzinga a Nlaza, and members of the local aristocracy were also baptized.

Nkuwu Nzinga ruled the area of today’s northern Angola and southern parts of Democratic Republic of Congo. He held the title of manikongo.

His baptism was conducted by the Portuguese priests, and he received the name of João. Namely, this Christian name means John in Portuguese. He converted to Christianity, and became the first among the many Christians rulers of Kongo.

The Kingdom of Kongo became a protectorate of Portugal in 1857. The kingdom was dismantled in 1914. Today, there are descendants of the former kings who are pretenders to the title of manikonogo.

Nkuwi Nzinga was a contemporary of the famous explorer Christopher Columbus. At the time, the area of Kingdom of Kongo covered 100,000 square kilometers. He, his wife, and other members of the local aristocracy were also baptized at the same time.

King João I was succeeded by his son Afonso, also a Catholic, and the line continued (Pedro I, Diogo I, Afonso II., Bernardo I, Henrique I. etc).

The last reigning King Kong was Manuel III. (to 1914). They all had Christian names (the Portuguese versions – João, Afonso etc.).

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