How will these resources help you?
When people think of strong female leaders, they tend to focus on European ones, with the same names being brought up over and over again: Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great and Isabella of Castile, just to name a few. Yet during the seventeenth century, another queen – who can easily rival any of the above – marked history, not only in her own territories but also in Europe. Revered today as 'the mother of Angola' and celebrated for her martial, political and diplomatic skills, Queen Njinga defied the Portuguese invaders of her realm, Ndongo (now part of Northern Angola) and conquered the next kingdom, Matamba, ruling both realms for three decades. She made political alliances with neighbours and negotiated with the infamous Dutch West India Company. In later life, she made direct contact with the pope, implemented Christianity in her kingdom and improved her subjects' lives following decades of war. Njinga's story is important as an account of resistance to colonialism, and it shines a light on female leadership. These resources provide context to her complex and difficult reign, allowing teachers to create lessons while encouraging students to further explore early modern female leadership.