Kimpa Vita

Three century ago a young woman who struggled against colonial penetration in Africa was executed; even though the colonization of this part of the continent (Central Africa) was not yet official. This young woman known as Kimpa Vita or named by the Portuguese Doña Beatrice and labelled by some as the African Joan D’Arc was a popular female prophet in the kingdom of the Kongo, a precursor of the prophetic figures of the independent churches, and the creator of a movement (The Antonian Movement) that used Christian symbols and revitalized traditional Kongo cultural roots.

The resistant started 1682 in the Kongo kingdom, space that stretched over parts of the present Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo and Gabon. The kingdom is partly Catholic, because of the Portuguese who landed there since the fifteenth century. During that period, slavery is full swing and the girl establishes genuine emancipatory policy, calling for the unity of the kingdom and restore Mbanza Kongo as the capital of the Kongo kingdom known as São Salvador by the Portuguese.

She grew during the latter half seventh century under the socio plolitacal disarray of her kingdom.   Portuguese invaders had defeated the Kongo, the king of Kongo have been converted and baptized Alfonso the First, and three ruling families contended for power. Her call to unity drew strong support among the peasants, who flocked to the city capital (Mbaza Kongo a.k.a São or San Salvador), which Kimpa identified as the biblical Bethlehem.

Kimpa Vita targets were clearly chosen: the Capuchin missionaries (Italians) and the Portuguese acting as governors in provinces throughout the kingdom who deeply involve in slave trade. Alongside her political activities, she was proved to be farsighted priestess whose visions and prophecies were conspicuous. She is also presented as a teacher of religion, advocating for moral order. She had to go to the people, she made her work from village to village.

The impacts of her work are quickly remarked; the Capuchins followers’ numbers crumble because people are no longer baptized, do not go to confession either and are not contacted for marriages; churches are deserted. Under fear, the new monarch Pedro IV will ally with Europeans.

Pedro IV, on the throne, will fear and will combine more beautiful with Europeans present. To counter this betrayal, Kimpa Vita turns to turn to João II, the second pretender to the throne. The alliance between Pedro IV and the Capuchins bearing fruits; Kimpa Vita will accused of religious imposture and heresy.

Together with her comrades; she was captured while nursing her baby. She was judged and accused of witchcraft and conspiring against the king. In July 02, 1706; Kimpa Vita, her baby were burned at the stake in the town of Evolulu near San Salvador (Mbaza Kongo) at age 18.  The Vatican will canonize her in 1920.

The Antonian movement, which Kimpa began, outlasted her. The Kongo king Pedro IV used it to unify and renew his kingdom. Her ideas remained among the peasants, appearing in various messianic cults.

Mbanza Kongo (São Salvador) is located in the north-west Angola, in the Zaire province and has a population of approximately 600,000 inhabitants. It is a rich oil producing region.