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.
- The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage by Susan Altman , Chapter M, page 181
- George Balandier “Daily Life in the Kingdom of the Kongo” (1968), p. 49
- Akyeampong, Emmanuel K. and Henry Louis Gates Jr “Dictionary of African Biography” (2011), p. 104
- George Balandier “Daily Life in the Kingdom of the Kongo” (1968), p. 50
- Linda Heywood ” Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora” (2002), p. 84
- King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Houghton Mifflin Books. 1998. ISBN 0-618-00190-5. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
- Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Formation of the Americas 1585-1660 by Linda M. Haywood and John Thorton and The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo by Cecile Fromont
- African Christianity in the Kongo. | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- African Political Ethics and the Slave Trade Archived March 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Newitt, M. D. D. “8.” The Portuguese in West Africa, 1415-1670: A Documentary History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. 151-53. Print.
- McKnight, Kathryn Joy, and Leo J. Garofalo. “Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550-1812.” Choice Reviews Online 48, no. 02 (2010). doi:10.5860/choice.48-1047.