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History 101 Antonio Manuel (Nsaku Ne Vunda) Kongo's Ambassador

Latti Ice Ganga Gangsta of PHAET 2012/08/05 00:00:26
Antonio Manuel Nsaku Ne Vunda


400 years ago, the first black ambas­sador sent to the Vat­i­can died in Rome: he came from the King­dom of Kongo. If you go to Rome, you must absolutely plan to go visit the Basil­ica of St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Mag­giore). And ask to visit the grave and the statue of Nigrita. It's a fel­low!

A Kongo in the Vat­i­can? Yes. The send­ing of an ambas­sador to Rome was within the con­text of the efforts of the king of Kongo to free his Coun­try from the medi­a­tion of Por­tuguese evan­ge­liza­tion. He wanted to come into direct con­tact with the Vat­i­can. Indeed, it is by rec­og­niz­ing the "right of patron­age" that var­i­ous popes of the fif­teenth cen­tury had given to Por­tu­gal and Spain the exclu­sive priv­i­lege of spread­ing the Chris­t­ian faith in the land of "their dis­cov­er­ies and con­quests" (1 ) Olivier de Bou­veignes argues that the lack of patron­age deprived the king­dom of Kongo mis­sion­ar­ies he needed. Reli­gion, as we know, entered a large part in what was described as a dynamic model to the King­dom of Kongo. Remem­ber that when the Por­tuguese reached the mouth of the Congo (Diego Cão in 1482) (2), the King­dom of Kongo was already strongly estab­lished. This, say the his­to­ri­ans, was a cen­tral­ized State gov­erned by a king liv­ing in the cap­i­tal (Mbanza Kongo - or San Sal­vador). And even if its bor­ders are con­sid­ered "chang­ing" the nucleus of the King­dom (Nzita-NZA) is rel­a­tively sta­ble, con­sist­ing of six provinces (Soyo Mpangu, Mpemba, Mbata, and Mbamba Nsundi), under­go­ing name changes depend­ing on whether they are writ­ten by the Por­tuguese, the Eng­lish or that they are tran­scribed from the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of our ancestors.

Catholic mis­sion­ar­ies arrived in the region in 1490. And the fol­low­ing year, Nzinga Nkuwu King of Kongo, was bap­tized under the names of Ndo Nzuawu. How­ever, the "guardian Por­tuguese" will move quickly to more mun­dane inter­ests such as trade in slaves, gold and ivory. The mis­sion­ar­ies gen­er­ally pay in trade and pol­i­tics (3).

An embassy to Rome is still con­sid­ered by the Por­tuguese after the erec­tion of the Dio­cese of Congo May 20, 1596. But the imple­men­ta­tion of the deci­sion is sub­ject to delays for those who did not want a sov­er­eign king­dom. So that it never comes up after the death of the first bishop (Por­tuguese) of San Sal­vador (May 10, 1602).

Fol­low­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of the new King of Por­tu­gal Alvaro II, in addi­tion to the pro­vi­sion of obe­di­ence to the pope, Kongo's ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can had to nego­ti­ate the appoint­ment of a new Bishop in Mbanza-Kongo and "other impor­tant issues" (4 ). Real­iz­ing this mis­sion in an arti­cle in Ital­ian news­pa­per La Repub­blica cel­e­brat­ing the 400th anniver­sary of Kongo's ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can, the his­to­rian Pietro Veronese said that was also included in the diplo­matic mis­sions of the Kongo, the demand for sup­port from the Pope to end the slave trade (5).

In fact, send­ing Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda not only the sec­ond attempt by the King­dom of Kongo to be rep­re­sented at the Vat­i­can. But the first was the essen­tially strangers. From 1585, in fact, King (Por­tuguese) Alvaro I (1568-1587) was sent to Rome as his ambas­sador to the Por­tuguese Jew Duarte Lopes to expose the Pope the spir­i­tual needs of Kongo. It was dur­ing this stay in Rome as the Por­tuguese ambas­sador to dic­tate Fil­ippo Pigafetta, Ital­ian trav­eler, sto­ries that will make up no later than his famous book The King­dom of Kongo and sur­round­ing coun­tries (1591).

ut the suc­ces­sor of King Alvaro II of Por­tu­gal (1587-1614), not quite sat­is­fied with the first mis­sion, decides to "African­iza­tion" in 1604 a project that also met the wishes press­ing the Pope (ClementVIII - 1592-1605 ). He called for send­ing to Rome of the first African ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can in the absolute, son of the soil Kongo. It will be "Dom" Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda.

Ambas­sador reached Lis­bon in 1605 after a very dif­fi­cult jour­ney in which we Bon­tink infor­ma­tion, he "fell three times in the hands of pirates who stripped Dutch gifts for the pope." Lis­bon, he wins Madrid. Here, as else­where in Lis­bon ear­lier, it does every­thing to dis­cour­age him from going to Rome. "It appears that the court of Madrid saw the evil eye projects Alvaro II she looked more or less as a vas­sal. The inten­tion of the Con­golese king put him­self under the papal pro­tec­tion owed much to please him, "said Bon­tinck. But the enthu­si­asm of our diplo­mat is boosted by a let­ter from Pope Paul V (1605-1621), suc­ces­sor of Clement VIII, 10 Decem­ber 1606, looked for­ward to his arrival in Lis­bon and hopes to receive it quickly per­son in Rome (see Bon­tinck, p. 121).

Yet no Nsaku Vunda will take his trou­bles patiently for nearly one year after the invi­ta­tion, in Octo­ber 1607, he may leave Madrid, together with the "nonce Mellini, who cre­ated Car­di­nal Sep­tem­ber 10, 1606, was going to receive the cardinal's hat from the hands of the Pope "(Bon­tinck, p. 121). The ambas­sador became ill on the way (is it poi­so­nous?), The pope imme­di­ately sends doc­tors to Civ­i­tavec­chia, a port located about sixty miles from Rome. The pope's own broth­ers, Fran­cois and Jean-Baptiste, and his nephew Car­di­nal Sci­p­i­one Borgh­ese, went to meet the ambas­sador to wel­come him to Rome. Orders were given to wel­come him with honor. "The Pope adds Bon­tinck, wanted to stay at the Vat­i­can, in the apart­ments for­merly occu­pied by Car­di­nal Bel­larmine." Prepa­ra­tions for the hear­ing of the pre­sen­ta­tion of cre­den­tials of new Ambas­sador engaged right away.

The Sacred Con­gre­ga­tion of Rites decreed that the for­mal hear­ing, at which would take the oath of obe­di­ence and the pre­sen­ta­tion of cre­den­tials, would be in the "Sala Regia," as was the cus­tom - and as always use today in the Vat­i­can - for audi­ences granted to the kings or their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Spain protested in vain the glo­ries that were prepar­ing, alleg­ing that the Kongo king­dom was not an inde­pen­dent but depen­dent on the Crown of Spain.

The solemn entry - usu­ally a splen­did pro­ces­sion - was to be the day of Epiphany (Jan­u­ary 6, 1608). And to mark all the glory he meant to give the event, the pope decided the strik­ing of a spe­cial medal to honor the ambas­sador after the cer­e­mony. In this atmos­phere that Dom Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda, Ambas­sador Plenipo­ten­tiary of the King­dom of Kongo in the Vat­i­can, arrived in Rome Jan­u­ary 3, 1608, but it is always sick. Pope Paul V increases the atten­tion to her and vis­its her in per­son. But Jan­u­ary 6, 1608, the feast of the Epiphany Catholic, Ambas­sador Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda not die in peace, caus­ing a great stir in the Vat­i­can. Sign of the afflic­tion of Pope Paul V asked to be buried this wor­thy son of Africa in the Basil­ica of Santa Maria Mag­giore which the court of Spain was the protector.

Even today you can visit this church, located near the cen­tral Ter­mini sta­tion in Rome, the Ambas­sador Kongo bust cre­ated by artist Fran­cisco Capo­rale. And a mau­soleum designed by Bernini remem­ber the mis­sion and the death of Ambas­sador in the bap­tism of the Basil­ica Santa Maria Mag­giore. And "a few steps in the Borgh­ese chapel in the same basil­ica of Santa Maria Mag­giore, we find again Bon­tinck infor­ma­tion, a text that relates to the Embassy of Emmanuel Antoine, alias Dom Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda . On the tomb of Paul V grand bas-relief rep­re­sents the recep­tion of a Per­sian embassy by the Pope in 1609, but in the inscrip­tion, it also alludes to a Con­golese embassy and Japan­ese … "(p. 126, note 14 ).

Finally another mem­ory marks the arrival of the Ambas­sador of Congo to the Vat­i­can: "When he painted in the Vat­i­can Library, the most remark­able facts of his reign, Pope Paul V ordered in front of the murals that repro­duce Can­on­iza­tion of St. Frances of Rome and St. Charles Bor­romeo, another mural should rep­re­sent his visit to the Ambas­sador Black mori­bund. One can still admire the wide cor­ri­dor of the Vat­i­can Museum, which leads to the Sis­tine Chapel "(Bon­tinck, p. 126).

Accord­ing to Richard Gray, the ambas­sador was "a man in his thir­ties, was described by those in Rome saw him as some­one" with noble man­ners, pious and devout, as with energy and pru­dence in diplo­macy '"(p. 147) (6).

While in the dias­pora in Europe on the 400th anniver­sary of the death of Manuel Anto­nio Nsaku ne Vunda went unno­ticed, com­mem­o­ra­tions were held in Braz­zav­ille, Kin­shasa and Angola.

In addi­tion, as part of the "Decade Kimpa Mvita Mama" and to honor the 400th anniver­sary of the Mis­sion Nsaku ne Vunda the Vat­i­can, the Gen­eral Coor­di­na­tion of the Asso­ci­a­tion Tri­con­ti­nen­tal Kongo Malaki my plans to orga­nize a pil­grim­age to the Heart of Africa for the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of East Africans and West Atlantic. This pil­grim­age will begin at the door of no return of the Island of Goree, will con­tinue in Accra (Ghana), Coto­nou (Benin) and in both Congo and sta­bi­lized in Mbanza Kongo. It will be attended by Kongo from Venezuela and the City Coun­cil of Musundi Cuba and Asso­ci­a­tions Kongo Malaki my French Guiana, Guade­loupe, Haiti and Santo Domingo. The pil­grim­age will cul­mi­nate with the hold­ing for the first time in Mbanza-Kongo (cap­i­tal of Kongo King­dom) Edi­tion of the Fes­ti­val my Kongo Malaki, the XVII.

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