Garcia II of Kongo
Garcia II Nkanga a Lukeni a Nzenze a Ntumba, also known as Garcia Afonso for short, ruled the Kingdom of Kongo from 23 January 1641 to 1661; he is sometimes considered Kongo's greatest king for his religious piety and his near expulsion of the Portuguese from Angola.
Garcia and his brother Álvaro Nimi were born in the early seventeenth century. Both brothers attended the Jesuit college at São Salvador (modern M'banza-Kongo) soon after it was opened in 1620 where they studied with the Jesuit priest João de Paiva. They joined the lay brotherhood of St. Ignatius while students. During his youth, Garcia obtained the nickname Kipaku (Quipaco) of uncertain meaning. When King Álvaro V was threatened by Daniel da Silva, Duke of Mbamba in 1634 the brothers came to the king's aid. Garcia was particularly valiant during the desperate battle which took place in the County of Soyo as the royal army was backed up against the river. Garcia was rewarded for his bravery by being named Marquis of Kiova, a small territory on the south bank of the Congo River, while his brother was promoted to Duke of Mbamba. However, in 1636 Álvaro V sought to remove the brothers and kill them, and in defense they managed to defeat and behead the king. Álvaro was then crowned King Álvaro VI and named Garcia as Duke of Mbamba.
Taking the Throne and the Dutch War
On 22 January 1641 Álvaro died in mysterious circumstances, and before the election could be held Garcia moved forces from Mbamba to the capital and forced them to declare him king. He almost immediately faced a crisis, however, for within a few weeks Paulo, the Count of Soyo and longtime ally died and was replaced by his rival and Garcia's enemy Daniel da Silva. At the same time that this happened, the Dutch armada invaded and took the Portuguese colony of Luanda. Kongo had a long term pact to assist the Dutch in driving the Portuguese out of Angola, and he immediately moved his armies south to assist. In 1642 he received an embassy from the Dutch and signed an alliance and agreement, only refusing to permit them to send him a Calvinist preacher, insisting that he was a Catholic and would not permit it.
Garcia hoped that the Dutch would assist him in driving the Portuguese out of Angola, as these terms had been laid down as early as 1622, when Pedro II had proposed the Kongo-Dutch alliance. However, the Dutch were not as willing to press their attack home once they had taken Luanda. Instead, they hoped to make it a trading post and allowed the Portuguese to continue to possess their inland territories. Dutch soldiers, however, helped Garcia defeat a rebellion in the small southern district of Nsala in 1642, the slaves captured from this paying for Dutch expenses in taking Luanda.
In 1643, as the relations between the Dutch West India Company and the Portuguese broke down, Garcia's forces assisted in driving the Portuguese from their positions on the Bengo River, though again the Dutch refused to press the attack home and the Portuguese regrouped at Massangano, further inland. However, increasingly hostile relations between Garcia and Daniel da Silva prevented him from committing forces to the campaign against Portugal.
Thus, in 1645 Garcia sought to drive Daniel from Soyo, but was defeated trying to take the Soyo fortified position at Mfinda Ngula. His son and would be heir, Afonso, leading the Kongo forces was captured, and a campaign to free him in 1646 failed also. Because of these wars, Kongo was only able to send small forces, when the Dutch, fearing that reinforced Portuguese might drive them from Luanda, declared all out war in conjunction with Queen Njinga of Matamba. Although the allies were successful at the Battle of Kombi in 1647, they were unable to dislodge the Portuguese from their forts. Further reinforcements from Brazil in 1648 forced the Dutch to withdraw.
Following the Portuguese Restoration
In the years following the Dutch war, Garcia sought to make amends with the Portuguese and settle relations. Salvador Correia de Sá, the Portuguese governor sought to demand that Garcia sign a harsh treaty in the aftermath of his victory over the Dutch, claiming the Island of Luanda, all lands south of the Bengo River, the rights to all mines in Kongo, payment of an indemnity, and other major concessions. Garcia's version of the treaty insisted on restoration of his rights south of the Bengo River as well as other demands. The treaty was presented in 1649, neither side signed it, though Garcia did pay an indemnity.
Garcia turned his attention to internal affairs following the Dutch period. Capuchin missionaries, who arrived from Italy and Spain in 1645 assisted in providing more clergy for the Church, and Garcia welcomed them to his country. However, always suspicious, he accused them of plotting against them in 1652, and in the same year he imprisoned Doña Leonor, an aged and well respected queen for her involvement in an alleged plot. She died in prison and Garcia lost considerable public confidence as a result.
He attempted once again in 1655 to take Soyo, and the next year, two sons of Pedro II, members of the House of Nsundi (or the Kinkanga a Mvika) tried to overthrow him. The Portuguese intervened on their behalf and might have attacked Kongo. However, Garcia was able to defeat the brothers and at the same time prevent the Portuguese, who remembered their crushing defeat following the Battle of Mbumbi in 1622, from crossing the Loje River. By 1657, Garcia II had annihilated or absorbed the rest of the House of Nsundi.
Garcia died in 1660, leaving his second son António I of Kongo to succeed him.
- Thornton, John: "Elite Women in the Kingdom of Kongo: Historical Perspectives on Women's Political Power", page 451. The Journal of African History, Vol. 47, 2006
- Graziano Saccardo, Congo e Angola con la storia dell'antica missione dei' Cappuccini (3 vols., Venice, 1982–83).