Nzinga: African Warrior Queen
From 1583 to 1663, Nzinga watched, listened and grew into her final role as Ngola, or Queen of Angola. Her father, the elder Ngola or King, was a wise ruler who practiced fairness unless he was opposed by rebellious chiefs. Even then, he exerted justice that would influence a return to loyalty and obedience; when that failed, he would mercilessly destroy his enemies. Nzinga sat quietly in the back of his audience room, listening to him respond to the needs of his subjects. When she wasn’t doing that, she would be listening to the reports of the women who were part of his extensive spy system both within his kingdom and as far away as Luanda, the base of invading Portuguese soldiers and traders. The old Ngola had high hopes that his son would succeed him, but Mbande showed passion only for hunting and feasting. Mbande will inherit the role, but it would be his mother, Kaningwa, who ruled and did everything in her power to prevent Nzinga’s rise to power. Nzinga trained as a warrior and possessed a wisdom for strategy and justice beyond her father or any other chief’s capabilities.
The amazing essence of this novel, however, concerns the communication of the women around Nzinga, their sharing of joys and sorrows, their ability to feast, work, and strategize with perfect balance. Their world is depicted as a celebration of life and a supernatural belief fleshed out in their devotion to each other and their Ngola. Formidable as the Portuguese might have been, they didn’t have a chance against the woman destined to become the first African Warrior Queen and her retinue. Stunning, beautiful and outstanding historical fiction, and highly recommended reading!