Seven Kingdoms of Kongo dia Nlaza

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The Seven Kingdoms of Kongo dia Nlaza were a confederation of states in west Central Africa that were absorbed into the Kingdom of Kongo in the 16th century.[1][2] This polity or region was first mentioned in texts of the Kingdom of Kongo in the late 16th century, although it probably existed much earlier. It was only then being incorporated into Kongo, through the kingdom's eastern province of Mbata Kingdom. It is unclear what the Seven Kingdoms were, though perhaps they included Kundi and Okanga. Presumably these kingdoms represented an alliance of several smaller polities, though the sources of the time tell us nothing about it.

The Seven Kingdoms were also called momboares in the 17th-century text of the Portuguese Jesuit priest, Mateus Cardoso, which offers an extensive description of the region.[3] The term momboares certainly derives from the Kikongo, or Kongo language, word mbwadi, meaning seven. Cardoso noted that the region was famous in his day for the large amount of cloth that it produced, some of which was exported to the Portuguese colonial city of Luanda, Angola. Reports of the early 17th century suggest that the Seven Kingdoms exported as much as 100,000 meters of cloth annually to that market alone, suggesting that its total production must have been several times higher, putting in on a par with other major textile centers in the world, including areas of equivalent size in Europe and India.[4]


  1. ^ Thornton, John Kelly (1998), The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684-1706 (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 51, ISBN 9780521596497 
  2. ^ Heywood, Linda Marinda; Thornton, John Kelly (2007), Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, And The Foundation Of The Americas, 1585-1660, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521779227 
  3. ^ Mateus Cardoso, "Relação de alevamento de Dom Afonso, irmão de rei de Congo D Álvaro III," (1622) in António Brásio, Monumenta Missionaria Africana (15 vols., Lisbon, 1952-88) 15: 533-34.
  4. ^ Thornton, John, "Pre-Colonial African Industry and the Atlantic Trade, 1500-1800," African Economic History Review 9 (1992)