1. Area inhabited/ruled [if members of your group emigrated, immigrated, or established settlement (colonies) outside of their home country you should include an explanation of that travel or settlement in this section; include places traveled and reasons for leaving home country]
  2. Everyday Life
  3. Social and Political Organization
  4. Religion
  5. Arts/Technology/Developed Culture

Matthew May
#7204, Mr. Shockley
October 3, 2011
The Kingdom of Congo

Area Inhabited

The Kingdom of Congo was located in western Africa bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo territory consisted of two major geographical areas, the northern forests and the southern savannas and grasslands. The weather usually was 25 degrees Celsius year round in the Congo with a long infertile and dry season, and a short fertile rainy season in the fall. In the 15 century the kingdom was located where modern and northern Angola is on the Gold Coast. It stretches as far west and east as the Kwango River and the Atlantic Ocean and it gos far north and south as the Zambesi and Kasai rivers. The ancestors of the Congo, the Bantu, migrated from the northern part of Africa to their former territory in the 13th century. When a Portuguese explorer named Daurte Lopez first discovered and introduced the Kingdom of Congo to the Atlantic World, he recorded that the Kingdom was approximately 1,685 miles long at the nation’s apex. At the time, the country shared the land with a colorful and dangerous assortment of flora and fona including poisonous insects, venomous snakes and lethal animals. The African land was also unpredictable because of large cliffs, ravines, mountain ranges and bluffs. The Kingdom of Congo was able to grow and thrive in the unforgivable African landscape that challenged all who inhabit it.

This is a map of The Kingdom of Congo’s landscape including deserts, valleys, and grasslands.

Everyday Life
Everyday life in the Kingdom of Congo was very hard and laborious on all members of the family. In a normal Kongan household, the father would usually get up very early so he would have enough time to get to work in the closest town. The father and sometimes oldest son would normally make money by taking small but strenuous occupations from anyone who needed it. Then, the matriarch of the family either the mother or the eldest daughter, would awaken and prepare the breakfast for the rest family usually consisting of rice beans and fruit.. A normal family would consist of one mother and father as well as four or five children the majority being boys. Eventually, after the whole family had finished their breakfast, the children would gather in the great room so that they could be schooled by their mother. The main goal of education in the Congo was to learn how to read and write in Kongan, the native language. Also some of the wealthier families would teach their children to read and write in Portuguese. Then the women would prepare lunch as the sons would head out to the forest or fields to grow and gather crops. At sunset, all the members of the family would return to the home to eat a very large and hearty dinner. Food in the Congo consisted of rice and beans with a cooked meat from a buffalo and sweet mango and papaya on the side. After dinner, all would go to bed at about seven o’clock so that they could start the day again tomorrow. The majority of the population of the Congo lived in poor and squalid conditions for their entire life. For them, life had expectations and if they were not met, they were not living in the norm.

Social and Political Organization
The government was very powerful and thrived on the trade that they maintain with other countries in the Atlantic World. They governed as a Monarchy and the manikongo, or king, was usually decided by the royal bloodline but if there was not a rightful heir to the him, he would be chosen by the spiritual leader. There were a total of six provinces in the nation, Mpemba, Mbata, Nsundi, Mpangu, Mbamba and Soyo at its apex. Each province had an elected official that had to be a direct descendent of the original Bantu people to govern. Their trade efforts were vary prosperous in the Atlantic World, including gold, cloth and labor. In the early 14 century the Portuguese discovered The Kingdom of Congo and introduced them to the European culture. Ever since that time, the Portuguese have lived and ruled over the Congo’s way of life in the Atlantic World. From 1505-1543 they had been secretly kidnapping people from the Gold Coast, mainly from The Kingdom of Congo, and selling them to other countries as trade items. When the nation heard of this, a rebellion began against the Portuguese. In 1641, the reigning manikongo, Garcia II, tried to become allies with the Dutch, a friend in trade, in an attempt to show independence and stop the slave trade. Sadly, even though the Dutch were a powerful ally, the Portuguese overpowered their combined forces and ended a war that hadn’t even begun. This, combined with the forced change in religion to Christianity, sent the Kingdom into turmoil. By the end of the 17 century, the once powerful Kingdom of Congo was shattered into a series of tribes and territories.
external image 800px-Flag_of_the_Kingdom_of_Kongo.svg.png
This is the Kingdom of Congo's flag when the Portuguese ruled over them between the 15 and 17 centuries.

The religion in The Kingdom of Congo is very representational of spirits and ancestors. In the religion, there was one overall supreme god, Nzamba, and he was very harsh and unforgiving. Each year he would require a human sacrifice to appease him and his word was law. Nzamba’s main goal was to decide where his worshipers would go in their afterlife after assessing the pros and cons of their life. As a person who would worship Nzamba it was their goal be good and generous to other people so that they could live well in the afterlife. Even though Nzamba was harsh, they relied on his approval to make important decisions in the kingdom. In the middle of the 16 century, the Portuguese introduced the Kingdom of Congo to Christianity. At first Christianity was neglected by all in the kingdom but soon the minority of the people in the Congo converted to appease trade efforts with European countries. Everyone in the Kingdom had accepted Christianity by the end of the 16 century.


This is a painting of a spiritual adviser or shaman that lived in the early 16 century.

Art/ Culture
The Kingdom of Congo had a very distinct and colorful culture. Their art and culture was primarily based on primitive sculpture and music. Various pots, masks, and vases are usually the type of sculpture that were made in the Kingdom. Also Nskini objects, or specific clay figures that would portray someone’s life were made in the Kingdom in the 15 century. These were often put with deceased people as protection for their travel to the afterlife. Some objects are so old that they date back to the 12 century. Music in the Congo was based on a series of drums and other percussion instruments. It was important that music was played in gatherings and important meetings in public life to portray a happy atmosphere. Also music was used to give hope to people in despair. Art and culture were very important in the kingdom because they expressed individuality and independence.

The Kingdom of Congo was a very powerful and resourceful empire that retained power for more than half of a millennium. They were able to overcome large obstacles like poverty, slave trade and most of all Portugal’s relentless influence. In the mid 1400s, the Kingdom’s success and prosper reached its apex because the Kingdom had maintained their government, land, and relations with the Atlantic World.