Born in 1592 in the Ndongo area (what is now known as Angola, Africa), Nzigha proved to be a valuable asset to her people in keeping them free from the shackles of slavery by the Portuguese. Nzingha's brother, king Ngola, fought the Portuguese many years to keep his people free, and after his death, Nzingha became ruler in his stead. She proved to be a cunning rival to the Portuguese and became known for her intelligence, bravery, and determination to keep her people free. One Portuguese commanding officer described her as being "A cunning and prudent virgo ... so generously valient that she never hurt a Portuguese after quarter was given and commanded all her servants and soldiers alike."
During her brother's reign, Nzingha was sent to represent him in a peace conference with the Portuguese. When the governor refused to give her a seat, she defied him by sitting on the back of one of her attendants. Nzingha was a very ambitious woman and some historians claim that she poisoned her brother in order to take his throne, while others say that the story was made up to discredit her. Whether or not the story is valid, Nzingha still proved to be a very capable leader. Her first act as queen was to demand that the Portuguese put a new peace treaty into effect or she would declare war. When the governor tried to drive Nzingha out of her land, the result was war.
Using her knowledge of European customs and religion, Nzingha was able to form valuable alliances with some of the neighboring Europeans, namely the Dutch who wanted to end the slave trade of Africans by the Portuguese. Not only was Nzingha able to keep her people free from slavery by the Portuguese, but she also tried to expand her kingdom by declaring that every slave who escaped to Ndongo would be free. After Nzingha's death at age 81, the Jaga people finally fell into the hands of the Portuguese, and although she is no longer with us in body, she will always be with us in spirit, for Nzingha was one of the many prime examples of the true wit and ability of WOMAN that lies in each of us.