Conduct research on Queen Njinga’s life [see additional reading selections] and her immediate family. Have students create a timeline based on her life with key dates.
What was the effect of using religion as a negotiating and bargaining tactic with the Portuguese?
How did her rule impact the region?
How did her reign continue to influence governance after her death?
What made her a successful leader? How would they write a
How is Queen Njinga’s rule different than her brother’s?
Additional Follow Up Activities:
Have students create their own obituary for Queen Njinga
Compare Queen Njinga’s rule and accomplishments with male rulers in the region at the time.
Utilizing a map, chart the regions that Njinga ruled and defended from the Portuguese.
Activity for Middle School Students:
Have students read the book Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba by Patricia McKissack - a fictionalized account of Queen Njinga’s life. Discuss how the author uses a combination of fact and fiction to create the story.
Njinga Mbandi (1581 - 1663) was a fearless warrior queen, skilled negotiator, and outstanding military general who fought against the Portuguese and their expanding slave trade in Central Africa. In her lifetime she ruled over two kingdoms - Ndongo and Matamba - and remains an icon in Angola today.
After several years of fierce fighting with the Portuguese, Ngola Mbandi, King of Ndongo, dispatched his sister Njinga Mbandi to to negotiate a peace settlement with the Portuguese. Njinga had demonstrated exceptional negotiation and diplomatic skills and won significant concessions from the Portuguese by the end of her trip to Luanda. As a concession to the Portuguese, she converted to Christianity and adopted the name Dona Anna de Souza and baptized in honor of the governor's wife who became her godmother.
Upon her brother’s death in 1624, Njinga became his successor through the support of the army and key allies. The Portuguese opposed Njinga’s succession to the throne, knowing that she would insist on Ndongo’s indepence. And through the backing of some of Njinga’s subordinates, she was ousted in a war waged against her in 1626.
However, Njinga refused to fade away. The now deposed queen, Njinga conquered the independent kingdom of Matamba. Njinga quickly distinguished herself as an excellent ruler, assembling an army, and forming strategic alliances and warfare tactics with an eye on reclaiming Ndongo. After thirty years of war, Njinga persisted, resisting Portugal’s aspirations. In 1657 Njinga and the Portuguese negotiated a truce, and Njinga won back part of her original kingdom and assumed the role of Queen of Ndongo and Matamba.
When Njinga died in 1663, she had made her mark as an outstanding example of female governance as an exceptional negotiator, politician, and military general.
Also known as: Nzingha, Zinga, Njinja, Dona Ana de Souza, Njinga Mbandi