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Manikongo

Manikongo

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The Manikongo or MweneKongo was the title of the rulers of the Kingdom of Kongo
Kingdom of Kongo
The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, the Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, a kingdom that existed from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and consisted of land in present-day Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Manikongo's seat of power was M'banza-Kongo
M'banza-Kongo
M'banza-Kongo , is the capital of Angola's northwestern Zaire Province. M'banza Kongo was founded some time before the arrival of the Portuguese and was the capital of the dynasty ruling at that time...

, (also São Salvador from 1570-1975) the present-day capital of Zaire Province in Angola, from where he would appoint governors for the provinces in the Kingdom and receive tribute from neighbouring subjects.

The term "Manikongo" is a Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 deformation of the KiKongo term Mwene Kongo (literally "lord of Kongo"). The term wene, from which mwene derived is also used to mean kingdom, and is attested with this meaning in the catechism of 1624 with reference to the Kingdom of Heaven. The term "Mwene" is created by adding the personal prefix (Class 1) Mu- to this stem, to mean "a person who performs the functions of the kingdom".

Mani is a spelling deformation of this original term, which is attested in very early texts, notably the letters of King Afonso I of Kongo
Afonso I of Kongo
Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba , also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.-Pre-reign career:...

, where he writes, in his letters to the Kings  Manuel I
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

 and João III of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 in 1514 concerning the "moinepango" (mwene Mpangu, a provincial authority), in which the orthography reflects its actual pronunciation. Mani was not only used to mean "king" it was also applied to anyone holding authority, so provincial and sub-provincial officials also were called "mani". In spite of the spelling problem, virtually all writers, both Kikongo speaking and Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, including the kings of Kongo themselves, used the term in regular correspondence.