King Afonso I of Kongo, ruler of the Kongolese Kingdom (1509 -1543)

King Afonso I of Kongo, ruler of the Kongolese Kingdom (1509 -1543)

Born Nzinga Mbemba, King Alfonso I was the ruler of the Kongolese people in the early sixteenth century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543. Mbemba created a good commercial connection with the Portuguese, and embraced Catholicism as a result of this relationship.

Every aspect of the life of the King, from his name, got changed to Alfonso after accepting Catholicism to his comprehension of governmental organization, which came to an impact from the Catholic faith.

Alfonso showed his dedication to his religion and called Catholicism the State religion, which throughout the Kongolese kingdom he built numerous Catholic churches.

Alfonso, in developing state religion, he asked the burning of all magical and non-Christian artifacts and objects, dismissing important aspects of the cultural heritage of the Congolese people.

The Portuguese-Kongo relationship (now recognized as Zaire in Congo) was based on trade. It is now part of a modern state of Congo. Alfonso had adopted the Portuguese system of court and has tended to train his empire in international business.

The King dominated every sector of the Kongo’s economy, exchanging ivory and raffia in exchange for the currency that he used to introduce Portuguese priests, professional tradesmen and teachers to the Kongo to support the education of the ruling class and the growth of the region.

Initially, the atmosphere of the trade was settled between the Kongo and the Portuguese states, the Portuguese King Manuel and Alfonso continuously exchanged letters.

This atmosphere started changing when the Portuguese required slaves in return for their merchandise.

Although Alfonso was clearly against slavery and originally fought against the demand of Portuguese people, he finally relented to sustain the Kongo economy.

Alfonso essentially sent war prisoners and criminals into Portuguese slavery. Portuguese demand for slaves gradually surpassed the available supply of slaves from the neighboring regions.

Essentially the slave trade destabilized Kongo and its neighbors as wars were launched by all the states in the region to obtain captives for sale to the Portuguese. King Alfonso passed on in 1543.

Source: Blackpast