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]

Kongo dia Nlaza[edit]

Kongo dia Nlaza was a little-known kingdom that existed to the east of the Kingdom of Kongo and was absorbed into Kongo in the late sixteenth century. The kingdom is first mentioned among the titles of king Álvaro I of Kongo in the 1580s as the "Seven Kingdoms of Congo Riamulaza". Presumably it was some sort of confederation of smaller entities that had existed in the area for some time. The area was renowned for the production of rafia textiles and palm cloth.

Seventeenth-century sources mention "Momboares" as the center for textile production, and statistical information from the Portuguese colony of Angola put its exports to that region alone as over 100,000 meters of cloth annually. The trade in cloth with this district was one of the largest trades for the Portuguese colony, and the cloth was used to pay its African troops. Momboares can be analyzed as follows: Mu (class prefix for persons) bwadi (seven), Lusitanized and pluralized according to Portuguese rules. It is thus "the people of the seven [kingdoms of Congo Riamulaza].

When the Kingdom of Kongo took over Kongo dia Nlaza it was integrated into the province of Mbata which led the expansion eastward.


  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)


Graziano Saccardo, Congo e Angola con la storia del antica missione dei cappuccini, (3 vols, Milan, 1982-83)