Monday, October 8, 2012

PRINCE DOM NICOLAU OF KONGO:.ONE OF THE EARLIEST AFRICAN AND THE FIRST ANGOLAN RULER TO PROTEST AGAINST COLONIALISM

Dom Nicolau, prince of Kongo (Circa. 1830-1860) also known as Nicolau I Misaki mia Nimi is perhaps the earliest African leader who wrote publicly to protest colonial influences. Nicolau,  or  Nicolas,  protested  against  Portuguese  commercial  and political  activity  and military  expansion  by  publishing  a letter  in  a Portuguese newspaper in  Lisbon.

                                           Prince Nicolau in his teens

In the  history  of  Angolan  resistance  to  Portuguese  rule  the  traditional and most  common  form  of  protest  has  been  armed  rebellion.  In the  late  nine- teenth century,  however,  new  forms  of  protest  appeared.  African  and mestigo assimilados (Angolans  with  varying  degrees  of Western  education) began  to express their  protests in writing,  both  in  letters  to  authorities  and  in  colonial
newspapers.  Perhaps the  earliest  case  of  Angolan  written  protest came  in 1859-1860  in  the  activities  of  a prince  of  the  Kongo  Kingdom,  Nicolau  de  Agua Rosada  de  Sardonia.  Nicolau,  or  Nicolas,  protested  against  Portuguese  commercial  and political  activity  and military  expansion  by  publishing  a letter  in  a Portuguese  newspaper in  Lisbon.  His  written  protest  is  the first  case  of  Angolan  written  assertion  against  modern  colonial  influence  and, therefore,  represents  an  antecedent  to  later  Angolan  nationalism.


The  life  of Prince  Nicolas  is inextricably  woven  into  the  fabric  of  the fortunes  of  the  Kingdom  of  Kongo  and  of  Angola,  a Portuguese  colony to  the  south of  the  Congo  River.  By the  time  of  Prince  Nicolas'  birth  in  the  first  third  of  the nineteenth  century the  Kingdom  of  Kongo  had  become  a  de  facto,  if  not  a de jure, colonial  puppet  of  the  government-general  of  Angola.  Portuguese  military  and
political  expansion in  the  sixteenth  and seventeenth  centuries,  which  involved wars  and slave-trading  activities,  as  well  as  internecine  warfare  among the Kongo  provinces,  had effectively
ruined  the  power  and sovereignty  of  the  Kongo kings.  Although the  Kongo  Kingdom  was  not
formally  annexed  to  Angola  until 1885,  as  the  "District  of  Congo, " the  kings  of  Kongo  were dependent  upon  Luanda for supplies  of food,  wine,  and  arms,  and for  political  support  and  Catholic
priests  long  before.  Moreover,  the  tradition  that  the  Portuguese educated Kongo  royal  princes
for  the  priesthood, in  Luanda  and in  Lisbon,  continued - albeit  with  some lapses -  from  the  time  of  the  original  Bishop  Henrique, son  of Dom  Affonso  I (1508-1543?),  through the  lifetime  of  Nicolas.

The  weakness  and dependence  of the  Kongo  Kingdom  coincided  with  a colonial  revival  on the  part  of  the  Portuguese  authorities  in  Angola.  The  official decree  of  1836  abolishing
the  slave  trade  in  Portuguese  Africa  was  followed  by  a new  colonial  program  which  was  designed
to  replace the  slave  trade  revenue  with legitimate trade  profits;  Portuguese  commercial,  political,  and military  expansion  between  1845  and  1865  was  thus  an  attempt to  renovate  the  post-abolition economy of the territory.  Part  of  the  plan to  increase  the  government  revenue involved  Portuguese  expansion  of  customs  house  control  north  of  Luanda.  A number  of  active  governors-general, beginning in  1842,  sought to capture  most of  the  coastal  trade  north  of  Luanda,  including trade  in  the  mouth  of  the  Congo River,  and thereby to  gain  profits for  Portuguese  merchants  and  customs  revenue
for  the  provincial  government.  The  Kongo  Kingdom,  which  was  directly  behind the  coastal  area  of  this  coveted  trade,  was,  by  1845,  dominated  mainly  by  British. and American  merchants.  The Portuguese  plan  was  to  renew long  neglected relations  with  the  Kongo  Kingdom, to  apply  pressure,  and then  to  control  events on the  coast  from  the  interior  of  Kongo.

The  Portuguese  policy toward  the  Kongo  Kingdom in  the early  nineteenth century  had  been  characterized  by indifference  and neglect,  but  the  new  incentives  reversed  the  trend.  While  a letter  of  1814  from  the  King  of  Kongo to Luanda  had met  no response  and  elicited  no  aid, 4 similar  plaintive
letters  in  the 1840's  met  a new  response from  the  Portuguese. In Lisbon  Portuguese  writers took  a new  interest  in  the  Kongo  Kingdom;  between  1844  and  1846  Joaquim  Lopes de  Lima,  a colonialista  and writer,  advocated  expansion  of  Portuguese  control  in that  kingdom. He noted  in  one newspaper  article  on the  Kongo  Kingdom that this  subject  was  particularly  timely  as  "Prince  Nicholau  of  Congo"  was  then visiting  Lisbon.

Nicolas'  exact  birth  date  remains  uncertain.  Contemporary  engravings of  Nicolas  during  his  visit  in  Lisbon  in  1845 suggest that  he  was  then  perhaps fifteen  to twenty  years  of  age .7  In any  event,  he was  the  son  of  King  Henry II of  Kongo,  who  ruled  from  1842  to  1857.  In early  1845  King Henry,
from  his capital  at  Sao  Salvador,  sent  letters  to  the  Governor  of  Angola  expressing the desire  to  send  Infante  Dom  Alvaro  d'Agua  Rosada  e  Sardonia,  apparently the heir  to  the  throne  at that  time,  to  Portugal to  get  an  education.  He was  to  be accompanied  by  an African  priest,  Dom  Ant6nio  Francisco  das  Necessidades. The Governor  complied  and sent  Captain  Antonio  Joaquim  de  Castro  to  Kongo to accompany these  men  back  to  Luanda  and thence  to  Portugal. The  party  was  to be  presented to  the  Queen  of Portugal,  Maria  II (1843-1853).  Instead  of  Dom Alvaro,  however,  Prince  Dom  Nicolau  d'Agua  Rosada  de  Sardonia  came  back with  Castro  and the  African  priest; there  was  no explanation for  this  change in the  correspondence.


Nicolas  left  Luanda  on the frigate  Diana  either  in  late  August  or early September  1845  and  arrived  at  Lisbon  on  or  about  October  31st.  Little  is  known about  Nicolas'  activities  in  Lisbon;  how long  he stayed  or  what  he  studied.  It is  clear,  however,  that  he  had  an  official  reception  with  Queen  Maria  II,  as there  is  an  engraving,  done  by  a  contemporary  Lisbon  artist,  of  Nicolas  in ceremonial  robes  worn  at  the royal  reception.  As  of May  1846  Nicolas  was reported to  be  in  good  health  in  Lisbon;  several  of  the  Prince's  letters  from Lisbon  were  received  by  his  father  at  Sao  Salvador  in  late  August. Nicolas did  not  remain long in  Portugal.  Sometime  between  late  1846  and  early  1848 he  returned  to  Angola; the  King  of  Kongo  reported to  the  Governor-General  in a  letter  of  February 1848  that  his  son  had  returned safely to  his  capital.

The  prince  of  Kongo  was  evidently  anxious  to  continue  his  studies  and to leave  Kongo.  He wrote letters  to  the  Governor  at  Luanda expressing  his  desire to study in  that city, to  which  the  Governor  replied in  letters  to  Nicolas  and to his  father  that  the  young  man  should  remain  in  Kongo  until  the  arrival  of  the Bishop  of  Angola  at  Luanda;  until  the  new  Bishop  came  with  some  "good  teachers,"
he  added,  Nicolas  would  be  wasting  his  time  in  Luanda.  13  Sometime  between the  time  of  this  letter  and late  1849  Nicolas  did  travel  to  Luanda  and  renewed  his studies.  In early  1850  he  made  a written  appeal to  the  Governor  for employment or  for  a small  pension for  subsistence  to  enable  him  to study  Latin  to  become  a Beneficio  Ecclesiastico  (assistant to  a priest).  The  government in  Lisbon recommended  that  Prince  Nicolas  be  granted  a small  monthly  pension  by the Treasury  Board  until  he  could  qualify  as  Beneficio.

Nicolas  probably  changed  his  mind  about  a  career  in  the  Church,  for  in 1850  he  became  a  civil  servant  in  the  Portuguese  government service  in  Luanda and  remained  in  this  position  until  1857.  By then  Nicolas  had  lived  over  ten years in  European  society  and had  assimilated  some  European culture  along  with his  ability to  read,  speak,  and write  Portuguese  as  well  as  some  French.  In short,  Nicolas  had  what  British  Consul  Gabriel  described  in  1859  as  "a very liberal  education."
                                        Map of Kongo
Alfredo  de  Sarmento,  a  contemporary  Portuguese  official  and settler who  knew  him  in  Luanda suggests several  reasons  why  Nicolas  wished  to  leave the  Kongo  Kingdom:  Nicolas  was  not  eligible  under  the  Kongo law  to  succeed  to his  father's  throne;  furthermore,  "his  experience  with  the Europeans  did  not permit  him  now  to  adapt  himself  to  native  customs  [usos  gentilicos].  He  remained  in  Luanda,  where  he  was  employed in  the  accountant's  office  of  the Public  Treasury  Department."
Sarmento  provides the  only  known  physical  description  of  Prince  Nicolas:
D.  Nicolas  Agua-Rosada  was  a tall  black,  with  very  dark  color,
kind  features,  a perfect  racial type  of  muxiconga,  which  is  distinguished
especially  by the  prominence  of  cheeks,  narrowness  of  the  forehead,
and by the  thickness  of the lips;  he  was  modest,  intelligent,  not  very
talkative,  but with  affable  and polite  manners.

In short,  he  won  general  popularity,  and  as  a public  employee,  he
was  exceedingly  zealous  in  the  fulfillment  of  his  duties. His  good
service  and  aptitude  resulted  in  his  promotion.

Why was  Nicolas ineligible for  the  throne  of  Kongo?  Sarmento  claimed that  it  was  because  he  was a direct  son  of  Henry II rather  than  a son  of  the King's sister  or  brother.18  The  Kingship  of  Kongo was  elective,  but  elections were  often  followed  by  wars.  According to  Vansina,  the  six  electors usually chose  "one  who  was  not  a  child  of the  deceased  king."19  Nicolas  was  one  of  a host  of  infantes,  that  is,  descendants  of  one  of  the sixteenth-century  King. Affonso  I's  three  children.  His title,  "Prince, " meant  that  he  could  have  been head  of  one  of  the  many  petty  chiefdoms  surrounding  Sao  Salvador,  but  from Sarmento's  evidence,  it  seems  that  during  Nicolas'  time  the  electors  would  favor
a king's  nephew  for  King  of  Kongo.


The  question  of  succession  to  the  Kongo  throne  became  an important issue  in  Portugal  and Angola  in  this  period.  In literature  which  appeared  between 1845  and  1855  Portuguese  writers  debated  as  to  whether  Kongo  was  a  "vassal kingdom"  of  Angola  or  merely  a  "friend  and  ally."  Nicolas  later  became  involved  in  this  question  when  he  protested  official  Portuguese  activities  with  regard  to  the  Kongo.  Lopes  de  Lima  argued  that  the  Kongo  was  actually  a district of  Angola  and that  the  king  was  a loyal  "vassal"  of the  Portuguese  crown. Santar6m  and Sa  da Bandeira,  two  distinguished  Portuguese  statesmen,  gathered historical  documents  to  try  and prove  that  the  Kongo  Kingdom  had  submitted  to Portugal  well  before  the  nineteenth  century  as  a  "vassal"  and  not  as  a mere "ally.  It is  interesting  to  note,  however,  that  Captain  Castro,  one  of Nicolas'  companions  to  Lisbon  in  1845,  believed  that  the  Kongo  Kingdom  was outside  Portuguese  rule,  for  he  placed  the  northern  frontier  of  Portuguese  territory  at  the  River  Lifume,  which,  in  effect,  might  be  interpreted  as  a southern
boundary  of  Kongo  Kingdom.

 If the  Portuguese  were  interested  in  renewing  contacts  in  Kongo  and strengthening  their  influence with  its  elite,  there  was  not  complete  agreement on the  achievements  of  the  new  policy.  The  policy  of the  official  entertainment of  Prince  Nicolas  came  under  attack  by  a former  treasury  official  in Angola, Joaquim  Ant6nio  de  Carvalho  e  Menezes.  In a book  written  about  1846,  but published  in  1848  in  Rio  de  Janeiro,  Carvalho  e  Menezes  stated  that  the  money spent  on  Nicolas'  visit  was  wasted.  Prince  Nicolas,  he  continued,  was  illegitimate  and merely  one  of  the  offspring  of  concubines of  the  King  of  Kongo.  He asserted  that  while  Nicolas,  an imposter  barely  able  to  speak  a few words  of Portuguese,  was  in  Lisbon,  the  real  descendant  and legitimate  heir  to  the  throne of  Kongo  was  in  Luanda.  Portugal's  new  interest  in  Kongo  was  misguided,  he wrote,  since  that  area  had  no  political  or  commercial importance.  Carvalho e Menezes  criticized  the  Overseas  Minister  of Portugal  for  deliberate  "conspicuous  consumption" in  the  Prince  Nicolas  affair.23  Despite  this  official's attacks and his  information  on Nicolas'  status  is  difficult  to  check the  new policy  toward  Kongo went  ahead  and Prince  Nicolas  continued  to  receive  certain considerations  from  the  Portuguese  government  in  Luanda.


II
Prince  Nicolas  became  further  involved  in the  question  of  the  succession to  the  throne  of  Kongo  and expanding  Portuguese  influence  on the  north  coast  and in  Kongo when  the  Portuguese  officially  annexed  the  port  of  Ambriz  in  May  1855. This  annexation  was  opposed  by  British  authorities  as  well  as  by  local  African authorities.  The  British  Foreign  Office  had,  since  1846,  officially  opposed
expansion  of  Portuguese  sovereignty  north  of  eight  degrees  south  latitude (a little  south  of  Ambriz)
in  the  interests  of  "unrestricted  intercourse, " or  free trade;  Portuguese  annexation  would  be  followed  by  customs  house  control  of  the local  trade.  24  Local  African  authorities  resisted  by  armed  violence  but were defeated  in  a short  skirmish.  King  Henry  of  Kongo,  however,  felt  that  the  Portuguese  annexation  was  favorable  to  his  interests  of  getting  support  from  Luanda. Therefore,  he  sent  a message  of  congratulation  to  the Governor-General  of Angola  within  a month  of  the  annexation.Within a few  years  Nicolas  was posted  as  a  civil  servant  to  the  new  administration  set  up  at  Ambriz.

The  death  of  King  Henry  II in  late  1857  sparked  a struggle  for  the  throne among  claimant  infantes.  This  civil  war  was  further  complicated  by  the  growing, general  African  resistance  to  expanding  Portuguese  authority  north  of Luanda.  Portuguese  forces  suppressed  African  rebellions  at  Ambriz  and
Bembe  in  1857  and initiated  relations  with  the  candidate  who  emerged  as  one "legitimate"  heir  to the throne,  the  Marquis  of  Catende,  called  Dom  Pedro,  a nephew  of  the  deceased  King. The  Kongo  custom  that  a  European  missionary had to  crown  the  king  was  already  well  established  by  this  date;
in  1858  the Marquis  was  still  uncrowned,  for  there  were  no  Portuguese  missionaries  then resident  in  Kongo.  That  same  year  he  visited  Bembe,  where  the  Portuguese  had begun  copper  mining operations, and the  coronation ceremony seems  to  have been  planned  at  that  meeting.  On August  7,  1859,  at Banza  a Puto  in  Kongo, the Marquis  of  Catende  was  crowned  King  Dom  Pedro  V; Portuguese  officials,  soldiers,  and priests  were  in  attendance.  Dom  Pedro  was  given the  same  royal
title  as  that  of  the contemporary  King  of Portugal,  Dom  Pedro  V  of  Braganga (1853-1861)  and was  crowned  by  Portuguese  priests from  Bembe  and  Ambriz.


Dom  Pedro  was  clearly the  favored  Portuguese  candidate.  Opposition from  several  quarters, however,  emerged  both  before  and  after  his  coronation. The  first  and most  traditional  opposition came  from  a  rival  claimant,  the  brave warrior,  Dom  Alvaro  Kiambu  Ndongo,  called  "Alvaro  Dongo"  by the  Portuguese. As  the  candidate  for  the  throne  put  up by the  Kisundi  clan,  Alvaro  Kiambu  temporarily  occupied  Sao  Salvador  and threatened  Dom  Pedro's  claim.31  Dom  Pedro called  for  help from  the  Portuguese in  Luanda.  In mid-September the  Governor- General  dispatched  a military  expedition to  relieve  pressure  on  Sao  Salvador  and to support  King  Pedro  in  his fragile  kingship.  Major  J. Baptista  de  Andrade, later  a well  known  governor-general  of  Angola, led  the expedition,  which  was
supported  by  African  auxiliaries,  the  guerra  preta.  They  occupied  Sao  Salvador in  late  1859.

In the  meantime  Prince  Nicolas  had  taken  a  civil  service  position in Ambriz  in  1857.  Little  is  known  of  his  life  during this  period,  but  it  is  very likely that  he  came  into  contact  with  other  assimilados,  as  well  as  with  resident foreign  consuls,  including  those  of  the  United  States,  Brazil,  and Great  Britain,
and became  culturally  more  Westernized.  New  ideas  from  Europe  and America influenced  Nicolas and his  contemporaries  in  coastal  Angola,  and  certain  groups were  becoming  dissatisfied  with  their  personal  status  and the  status  of  Angola under  Portuguese  rule.  Recalling the  period  of  the  late 1850's  and  early  1860's, Nicolas'  contemporary,  Sarmento,  wrote:
         At that  time  in  Luanda,  some  utopian  ideas  of  independence  fermented,
         so  that  some  radical  natives  tried  to  liberate  the  mother  country  [italics
         in  original],  as  they  called  it,  from  Portuguese  rule.  They  talked  of  a
         republic,  preferring  Brazilian  nationality,  and there  were  even  those
        who  thought  of  making  a present  of  the  beloved  country  to  the  republic
         of  the  United  States  of  America.


The  official  policy  of  sending  Portuguese  political  exiles  to  serve  sentences  in Angola  encouraged  the  spread  of  anti-monarchical,  pro-republican  doctrines  at this  time.  Coinciding  with  a  certain  amount  of  European  discontent,  and perhaps encouraged  by  it,  was  an African  separatism  among  a handful  of  Africans  and mestigos  with  European  education.

Either  in  Ambriz  or  in  Luanda  Prince  Nicolas  read  in  the  government gazette,  the  Boletim  Official, of  the  coronation  of  King  Pedro  V  on  August  7, 1859,  and  of  the  official  oath  of  loyalty  the King  of  Kongo  took  to  the  King  of Portugal.  Within  nine  days  of  the  publication  of  this  "Auto, " Nicolas  had  written several  letters  of  protest.  Two  of  these  letters  were  to  individuals,  one  to Dom  Pedro  V  of  Portugal  dated  September  26,  1859,  and  one  to  Dom  Pedro  II, Emperor  of  Brazil,  with  an unknown  date.  35  More  important  than  these  letters in  terms  of  Nicolas'  future,  however,  was  a protest  letter  addressed  to  a Portuguese  daily  newspaper,  the  Jornal  do  Commercio (Lisbon),  also  dated September  26,  1859,  and published  in  Lisbon  on  December  1,  1859.36  This document became  the  focus  of  a  cause  celebre  in  Angola  and  indirectly  resulted in  the  tragic  end  of  the  Prince  of  Kongo.


The  major  point  of  Nicolas'  written  protests  was  that  Portugal  had  no  right to  claim  that  the Kongo  Kingdom  or  king  were  now  "vassals"  of  Portugal  when  in fact they  were  "ancient  allies"  or  "a friend  and faithful  ally."  Quoting  documents to  prove  his  point,  Nicolas  cited  a letter  from  the Governor  of  Angola to  the  King of  Kongo,  Henry  II,  dated  November  5,  1853,  in  which  the Governor  addressed that  monarch  as  "an  ancient  ally."37  Nicolas  thus  protested the  new  oath  taken by  Dom  Pedro  V  at the  August  7th  coronation  and  added  that  the  military force sent  to  aid  the  King  'against  an illegitimate  but  powerful  pretender"  was  dispatched to  aid  an  ally,  not  to  pressure  a vassal. Indeed,  Nicolas  maintained, the  King  of  Kongo  was  an independent  agent.  The  King  and his  aides had signed the  document  of August  7,  1859,  only  because they could  not  read  Portuguese. Nicolas  appealed to  the  King  of Portugal  and  asked  him  to support  "the independence  of  that  kingdom [Kongo]

Nicolas'  letter  to  the  Lisbon  newspaper contained  much  the  same  protest  but went  further,  claiming
that  he,  Nicolas,  was  the  only  person  of royal blood  from  the  Kongo  elite  who  had  the  education  to  understand  the  issue  and to protect the Kingdom  of  Kongo  against future  dishonest  acts.  In this  letter Nicolas  does  not  actually claim  the  throne  for  himself,  but  the  tone  and  content of  the  letter leave  little  to  the imagination in  terms  of  Nicolas'  ambitions.  The Kongo  Kingdom  was  an
independent  state,  Nicolas  asserted,  and the  recent Portuguese  oath  taken  by  King  Dom  Pedro  was  an infringement  of  this  well established  sovereignty.  The  Portuguese  had  hoodwinked  the ignorant  aides  of the  King,  who  evidently  knew  no  Portuguese  himself,  and had  made  them sign
this  document.  The  secretaries  and  clerks  of  Kongo  "so  poorly  understood  the Portuguese  language
that they  mistook  the  phrase,  swearing  of  obedience  and homage for  renewal  of  alliance  and
friendship."

This interesting  protest letter suggested that  Nicolas  was  better  fitted  to exercise  rule  in  the  Kongo
than  were  his  relatives,  stating that:
                This  act,  moreover,  by the swearing  of loyalty  and homage said  to  be
                done  by the  Marquis  of  Catendi,  my  first  cousin,  in  the  role  as  king  of
                the  Kongo, is  an infraction  of  national independence,  well  recognized  by
                history  and by the  very  government of  His  Most  Faithful  Majesty  and by  all
                their  representatives in  this  Province,  in  many  documents  ....
                And since  the  Kongo  Kingdom  possesses  no  other  person  with  such learning,
                it  is  therefore  necessary to  make  a public  and solemn declaration  in  this  respect,
               as  such,  to  protest,  as  I do  protest, against the  stated  act,  which subjugates the
               same  kingdom to  that of  Portugal.


Although the  publication  of  this  article  had  little impact in  Portugal, the bold  protest,  accompanied  as it  was  by  an elaborate  set  of  arguments  and documents,  raised  eyebrows in  Angola.  Sometime  in early  February  1860  the  government-general  of  Angola  received  a copy  of  the  paper  which  carried Nicolas' protest letter.  On February  11 the  government sent  Nicolas  a letter  at  Ambriz, where  he  was  "interim  clerk"  to  the treasury  board.  In this  letter  the  Secretary- General  of  Angola  acknowledged that  Luanda  knew  of  Nicolas'  protest letter  and that  the  government  understood  the  conflict  between  Nicolas'  position  as  "a public  employee"  of  Angola  and his recently  published  claim  to  be  "a foreign
prince  of  a free  state."  At  about  the  same  time  the  government sent  Nicolas an  order  to  be  transferred  to  a  new  post,  out  of  harm's  way,  at the  new  village of  Mogcmedes.

It  is  unclear  whether  Nicolas  received  these  letters,  but  if  the  one  of February  11 was  a measure  to  stall  him,  it  would  not  have  worked  in  any  case; by then  he  had  apparently  made  plans for leaving  Angola.  He  had  been  contacted by  foreign friends  in  Luanda  and warned  about  the  government's  displeasure  over his  letter.  Furthermore,  he  must  have  known  about  the  fate  of  his  uncle, Dom  Aleixo,  or  Alexus,  Prince  of  Kongo,  a brother  of  King  Henry  II,  who  in 1841  had  incited  the Dembos  people  north  of  Luanda  to  rebel  and  refuse  to  pay a Portuguese  tax,  had been  arrested, and imprisoned in  a Luanda  fortress  until 1856.  Nicolas  left  Ambriz  on  February  13,  1860,  with  the  aid  of  his  friend Saturnino  de  Sousa  e  Oliveira,  the  Brazilian  consul.

Had Sousa  e  Oliveira  helped  Nicolas  to  write  his  famous  protest letters? If so,  what  were  his motives?  At present such  questions  cannot  be  answered since  the  relevant correspondence from  this  Brazilian  consul  has  not  yet  been studied.  What is  known  is  contained  in  several  letters  of explanation from  Sousa e  Oliveira  to  the Governor-General,  in  letters  from  Huntley  and Gabriel,  the
British  representatives in  Luanda,  as  well  as  in  correspondence from  the Governor-General.  From  these  letters  it  appears  that,  of  the  two  foreign consuls  involved  in  giving  aid  to  Nicolas  in  his  abortive  attempt to  leave  Angola, the  most  compromised  and guilty  one  was  Sousa  e  Oliveira.  Sousa  e  Oliveira was  willing to  help  Nicolas  leave  Angola  and went  to  Consul  Gabriel  to  arrange for  a British ship to  pick  up Nicolas  north  of  Ambriz  and take  him  to  Brazil. Gabriel,  who  was  shown  two  of  the  protest letters  on  or  about  February  9th, was  reluctant  to  help  Nicolas  but finally  consented  to supply the  Kongo  Prince with  a letter  of  introduction  to  the  commander  of  any  British  vessel  which  might call  at the  ports  north  of  Ambriz.  This  letter  was  sent  to  Nicolas  in  Ambriz with  a warning that  the  government  might  be taking  action  against  him  for  his letters  of  protest.

Some  vague  plan  involving  relations  between  Brazil  and the  "free  state" of  Kongo  with  Nicolas  as  king  was  apparently  behind  the  Brazilian  Consul's  involvement  with  Nicolas.  In a  letter  of  February  28,  1860,  the  Brazilian  Consul revealed  the  outlines  of  such  a plan  and  explained,  at  least  in  part,  his  relations with  Nicolas.  Sousa  e  Oliveira  stated  that  Prince  Nicolas  as  a  civil  servant  in  a low  position  ("Escrivao  Interino  da  Delegagao  da  Junta da  Fazenda") in  Ambriz was  now  dissatisfied  with  his  role  and wanted  to  continue  his  education.  Nicolas lacked  the  means  to  continue  his  studies  but felt  that  as  a government  employee he  was  "without  honors  or  distinctions."  He  had  decided,
therefore,  to  leave Angola  and study  at  Rio  de  Janeiro  under  Brazilian sponsorship. In the  future, Nicolas  planned for  a  close  "alliance"  between  Brazil  and the  Kongo  Kingdom, the  nature  of  which would  be  commercial:  wax,  ivory,  gums,  and  oils  to  be traded  for  Brazilian  rum,  sugar,  glass,  and textiles.

Nicolas  considered  himself  the  most  educated  person  of royal  blood  from the  Kongo  Kingdom,  but  it  is  not  clear  whether  he  conceived  of  himself  as  a king in  a future  alliance  with  Brazil.  In any event,  further  education  was  part of  the  plan,  and  Nicolas  badly  needed  money to  finance  his  departure from Angola  and his stay in  Brazil.  Sousa  e  Oliveira  later  explained to  the  Governor- General  that  Nicolas  planned to  meet  a member  of  his family  at  Ambriz,  obtain from  him 200  to  400  African slaves,  and,  masquerading them  as  "indentured servants,  " sell  them  to  a  French  agent  on the  coast.  He would  then  have  the necessary funds  to  travel  to  Brazil,  where  he  would  seek  the  patronage  of  the Brazilian  Emperor. From  Ambriz,  Nicolas'  destination  was  the  small  port  of  Kissembo,  a few  miles  to  the  north  in territory  as  yet  outside  of  Portuguese  jurisdiction  and customs  house  control.  The  village  was  the  site  of  a  number  of trading factories owned  by  American,  British,  and Dutch  telling friends  that  he  intended  to  visit  a  nearby relative.  He was  bearing the letter  of  introduction  written  by  Consul  Gabriel.  When he  reached  Kissembo,  he entered  the  house  of  a British  merchant,  Mr.  Morgan.  Morgan's  house  was  soon surrounded  by  a large  group  of  hostile  Africans screaming for  Nicolas.  According to  one  account  Morgan  refused  to  surrender  Nicolas,  and when  he  raised  a
British flag to  get  help, the  Africans  broke  in,  dragged  Nicolas  out,  and slaughtered  him.  Another account  stated  that  Nicolas  succeeded  in  getting  out  of the  back  of  the  house  but was  then  shot  dead. The  American  commercial agent,  Willis,  reported that  Morgan  gave  Nicolas  up  after  awhile,  and the  crowd then  shot  and beheaded  him.


Why did these  Africans  kill Nicolas?  One interpretation  was  that  Nicolas was  an  assimilado  and  a traitor  to  Africans  in  that region;  "because,  they  said, he  had  sold  Ambriz  to  the  Government  and now  wanted  to  sell  the  Congo." Indeed,  his  Portuguese friend  at  Abriz,  Sarmento,  had  warned Nicolas just prior to  his  departure for  Kissembo  that  he  was taking  a terrible  risk,  "because the  black  natives  north  of  Ambriz  despised  him  for leaving the  Kongo  and for living  on  intimate  terms  with  the  whites."  Thus,  Nicolas  may  have  become  a victim  of  popular  Kongo  justice,  condemned  as  an agent  of  interests  alien  to  the people  north  of  Ambriz. 

The  exact identity  of  Nicolas'  assassins  remains  unknown.  The Brazilian  consul  later  blamed  the  death  of  the  Prince  on  "blacks  coming from Ambriz,  " who  had  been  informed  about  Nicolas  by  agents  of  the  Governor-General  in  order  to  prevent him  from  achieving the  "independence  of  the Congo."  Out  of  later  repercussions from  the  affair  came  the  Governor-General's  bitter  accusation  that  Gabriel  had  "sacrificed"  Nicolas'  life. The assailants  of  the  ill  fated  Prince  were  undoubtedly  caught  up in  the  general  unrest  fomented  by  Portuguese  expansion  north  of  Luanda  after  1855,  but this factor  would  not by itself explain  what  appears to  have  been  a planned  attack.


The  crucial  question  remains  whether  or  not  the  African  assassins  knew  that Nicolas  had 
recently incurred  the  wrath  of  the  Portuguese  authorities  in  Luanda with  his  protest letters. When the  Governor-General  learned  of  Nicolas'  violent  death,  he  decided to  launch  a military  expedition to  Kissembo,  partly in  order  to  avenge the Prince's  death,  but  also  to  annex  Kissembo  for  Portugal.  The  Governor  confided to  Lisbon  that  Nicolas  had  "betrayed" the  Portuguese  authorities  but  that  the 
African  assailants  had to  be  punished.  He  blamed  Consul  Sousa  e  Oliveira more  than  Consul Gabriel,  but  he  did  accuse  Gabriel  of  plotting to  "seduce" Nicolas  into  "opposing  our  projects  of 
subjugating he  Congo.'  Sousa  e Oliveira,  he  said,  had  encouraged  "aspirations  of independence  which  now  are germinating  around  here  in  the  excitable  minds  of  the  natives."  Both men,  he argued, should  be  removed  from  their  positions for  such  "ridiculous thoughts." 

The  expedition to  Kissembo  failed  to  complete its  mission,  meeting  considerable  opposition from Africans  as  well  as  from foreign  naval  units  which opposed the expansion  of  Portuguese  sovereignty.  When Governor-General Amaral,  who  was leading the expedition  himself,  met  armed  crews  from  the 
U.S.S.  Union  and from  the  British  vessel,  Falcon,  he  stated  that  he  wished  only to  rest  his troops 
in the  town;  but  the foreign  commanders  refused  to  permit even  this  much. The  Portuguese  expedition 
then  burned  parts  of  the  town  and withdrew  toward  Ambriz.  In crossing the  Loge  River  near Ambriz,  the  Portuguese  were  ambushed  by  Africans  and took  heavy  casualties.  Poorly  supplied and badly  led,  they retreated  south  to  Luanda  and safety. 


III 
The  Prince  Nicolas  affair  ended  with  the  Portuguese failure  either  to "avenge" the  Prince's  murder  or  to  annex  Kissembo  to  Angola.  Nearly  every individual  touched  by the  events  of  February  1860  suffered  in  one  way  or  another. Commissioner  Huntley  used  the  affair  to try to  discredit  and dismiss  Consul Gabriel;  Huntley considered  Nicolas'  protest  as  "spurious"  and  contrived  by the  Portuguese 
to  make  claims  in  the  Kongo  area.  Brazilian  Consul,  Sousa  e Oliveira,  was  compromised,  despite  his  explanations to  the  Governor-General that  Gabriel  was  only  a friend  of  Nicolas  and that  Britain  and Brazil  had  no  real interest  in  the  Kongo  Kingdom;  he eventually left  his  position  as  consul,  but 
remained  in  Luanda  as  a physician. The  Governor-General  attempted to  use the  affair  to expand  Portuguese  authority  on the  coast,  but met  complete  disaster in the  Kissembo  expedition;  despite the  fact  that  his  term  of  office  had  been long and largely  successful,  Portuguese settlers  clamored  for  his  dismissal,  and the government  relieved  him  of  his  post in June.  He was  replaced  by  a new  Governor  - General  in  August  1860.  Nor  was  Amaral's  reputation the  last  one  to  suffer. The  general reputation of  all  Portuguese  authority in  coastal  Angola  was severely shaken  by the  Prince  Nicolas  affair  and its  repercussions;  and  an expedition  of 800  European  reinforcements  sent  from  Portugal to  attempt to  restore  this tarnished image,  achieved  little  or  nothing  as  well  as suffering  nearly  fifty  percent  mortality 
from  malaria  and yellow fever.

In Portugal,  however,  the  Prince  Nicolas  affair indirectly  prompted the King of  Portugal to  reassess  Portuguese  overseas  policy  and to reappraise its costs.  When he  had  received  a full  report  of the  affair  a few  months  after Nicolas'  death,  King Pedro  V wrote  a minister  in  Lisbon: 
      "Many  of  our  misfortunes  in  Angola  clearly  originate in  the  policy  of expansion,  which  
      the  Overseas  Council  began,  and which  we today find ourselves  obliged to  continue  .  .. 
     To  follow  this  policy, it  is  necessary to  accept  all  the  consequences,  and these  are  the 
     weakening  of  the Metropolis in  favor  of  the  colonies  ....  We are  moving to  destroy the 
     special  civilization  of the  natives-  that  is  to say, their  absolute liberty-  but we  cannot  
     substitute  our  civilization, since they cannot accept  it,  and because they  do not  know  or  
     understand  it." 


Portuguese influence  in  the  Kongo  Kingdom  declined  again  after  the  brief spurt  of  activity in  1859-1860.  A  rebel  claimant  to  Dom  Pedro's  throne, Alvaro  Ndongo,  was  kept  at bay  and was  soon  defeated.  Yet  the  power  of  King Pedro  V  (or  VI) was  very limited  and was  confined  to  the environs  of  his wretched  capital  at  Sao  Salvador.  The  resident  Portuguese  garrison  which maintained  whatever  power  he  enjoyed  was  withdrawn  in  1870,  and the  Portuguese  garrison at near-by Bembe  was  withdrawn  two  years later.66  When  Amaral returned  for  a second  term  in  1869-1870,  he  admitted  that  the  Kongo  King  was but  a figurehead  among  a  number  of  other  petty chiefdoms  and that  the cost  of earlier expeditions  and  occupation  had  been  wasted.  Although  a Baptist missionary later  referred  to  Dom  Pedro  as  "the  last independent  King  of Congo, " it  was  obvious  that  the  King was  rather  helpless  and that,  as  Nicolas had  pointed  out  in  1859,  his ignorance  of  Portuguese  would  make  him  vulnerable to  Portuguese  ambitions.  Indeed,  in  1884  the  king  apparently  signed  a document acknowledging the suzerainty  of  Portugal,  believing  that  he  was  only  thanking the King  of  Portugal for  some  gifts.

A decade  and  a half  later,  when  the  Portuguese  again  sought to  expand their  influence  in  Angola, some  officials  reconsidered  the  policy of  maintaining and  educating the tiny  Kongo elite.  The  Prince  Nicolas  affair  and several others,  including that  of  Prince  Alexus,  suggested that  the  education  of  the 
Agua  Rosada  dynasty tended  to  produce  enemies  rather  than  friends  for  Portugal. The  statement  of  a governor-general in  a  letter  of  1885  to  Lisbon  that such  education  thus  far  had  created  only  "useless  visionaries,  detestable clerks,  " was  referring,  at  least indirectly, to  the  case  of  Prince  Nicolas 
as  well  as  to  later  assimilados. 

Despite the  fact  that  the  Prince  Nicolas  case  remains  mysterious, even to  Angolan  historians,  several  conclusions  can  be  reached.  Nicolas'  roles  in Angolan  society  were  conflicting.  He was  at  once  an  assimilado  and  an African traditional  leader.  As  the  personally  ambitious  assimilado  he  was  prepared 
to use  the  slave  trade  to  better  his  own  condition.  Vansina's  hypothesis that  the political  leadership  of  the  Kongo  Kingdom  by the  early  eighteenth  century  had become closely tied  to  the  slave  trade is  complemented  as  well  as  modified in  the  case  of  Nicolas.  If it  is  true  that  slaves  remained  "the  real  source  of power"  at  the  mid-nineteenth  century, it  is  also  true  that  the  possession  of European education  had  become  more important  as  a factor  of  mobility  and  as a qualification for  eligibility in 
leadership  among the Kongo elite. 

Nicolas' written protest that his  royal  relatives  in Kongo were  illiterate  in Portuguese, whether or not it was true,  suggested that he considered  European education as  a necessary  prerequisite to leadership in  a Kongo  which  had  relations  with Portuguese Angola. Nicolas'  protest stated that,  as  a member  of a traditional African elite, he felt  a responsibility for protecting the interests  of the people  of Kongo,  although 
this  attitude was in conflict  with his  official  position  as  a civil  servant  in the Portuguese  administration in Ambriz.  He thus set  himself  up as  a guardian of his  people's interests.  It is  not known how much of a 
following Nicolas  had in Kongo; Brazilian Consul Sousa e Oliveira  wrote that,  although Nicolas  had"some 
Partisans"  in Kongo Kingdom in  1860,  he represented  only one faction.  If he sought to assert  his  role as prince  of a "free foreign state,  " then he could not continue to hold his  position  as  an assimilado  civil  servant with the government, as the Portuguese  authorities  had warned him shortly before  his  death. 

Whatever Nicolas'  place in the pantheon of early  Angolan protest  and dissent,  his  life  represented  a peculiar  mixture  of the traditional  and early modern.  From the time  of the publication of his  protest letter  the Portuguese have considered  him what they call  "a rebel."  If he was  a rebel,  his  rebellion had ambiguities.  Although he employed traditional means from the Kongo past --  slave  trade  profits  and  letters  of  petition to  European  authorities  --  to achieve  what he wanted,  he also  used  a new method --  publishing a letter  in a newspaper.  Nicolas'  published protest letter  represents  perhaps the first written  opposition to a stated Portuguese policy since  the letters  from kings of Kongo to Lisbon and the Vatican in the sixteenth  century.  Since it was published,  it went beyond the traditional disputations  of earlier  private Portuguese-Kongo correspondence.  When Nicolas  wrote that the "national independence" of Kongo Kingdom was  "well recognized  by history  and by the very  Government of His Most Faithful Majesty, " he used historical  arguments to establish  an independent status for his  kingdom,  although "national independence" was  a non- traditional phrase.  Yet his  protests failed  to make the Portuguese renounce their  policy  or to replace  Pedro V.  The repercussions  from Nicolas'  death, however,  did far more to undermine the Portuguese position than did his letters. 


The tragic  Prince  Nicolas  affair  illustrates  two  levels  of  consciousness  in the  area  north  of  Luanda:  among the  Kongo  Kingdom  elite  there  endured  a  consciousness  of special  privilege  and sovereignty,  originally  articulated  in  the  six-teenth-century  experiment,  and thereafter  doggedly  preserved  by succeeding generations;  among the  African  peoples  north  of  Luanda  was  a  consciousness  of 
independence  which  would  lead  them  to  oppose  Portuguese  expansion  and  authority  and to condemn  and punish  any leader they  considered  to  be  inimical  to  their interests.  Nicolas,  like  a number  of deposed  Kongo  kings  and  princes  before and since  his  time,  apparently  was  a victim  of  this process. 

In  1860  Angola  none  of the  parties  involved,  including the  Portuguese, was  certain  of  the  durability  of  Portuguese  presence.  Whether  or  not  he  was encouraged  by  Brazilian  and British  pressures, Nicolas,  by  his  protest,  revealed both  Portuguese  weakness  and the  expanding  consciousness  of  the  educated  and rootless  assimilado  elite.  This  Kongo  elite  was  a living  reminder  to  its Portuguese  patrons that  a  little  education  could  be  dangerous,  especially in men  with  leadership  qualities.  Indeed,  it  was  feared  by some  Portuguese  officials  that  with  proper  leadership the  Kongo  Kingdom  could  become  more  than just  a  puppet state  of  Angola.  Prince  Nicolas'  "very liberal  education,"  and his  protest,  however fleeting,  became  new  factors  in  the  status  of  Kongo  and in  the  Kongo  elite's  quest 
for  power  and prestige. 




Source;http://www.webafriqa.net/colonial/pdf/angola_kongo_prince_nicolas_protest_216190.pdf

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