Kongo and the coastal states of West Central Africa

Vos, J. (2018) Kongo and the coastal states of West Central Africa. In: Spear, T. (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in African Studies. Oxford University Press. (doi: 10.1093/OBO/9780199846733-0052)

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The kingdom of Kongo emerged sometime in the 14th century in the border region of modern northern Angola and the southwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. During its heyday in the 16th century, the kingdom exerted influence from its capital in Mbanza Kongo over large areas north and south of the Zaire River, including the coastal states of Loango, Kakongo, Ngoyo, and Ndongo. The kingdom was renowned in Europe for its conversion to Christianity around 1500, which resulted in a steady flow of Catholic missionaries to central Africa (which continued to the 19th century), and its early involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. After opening the slave trade in Kongo in the early 16th century, merchants from Portugal and other European nations also started trading on the Loango Coast, in Angola, and ultimately in Benguela. These different coastal regions and their hinterlands are commonly seen as forming one interconnected zone, labeled West Central Africa, which became the largest regional supplier of coerced labor to the New World on the African continent. After the transatlantic slave trade was effectively abolished in the 1860s, the coastal societies of West Central Africa developed alternative export trades, most notably in ivory, coffee, and rubber. Like the slave trade, these new export trades had deep social and political ramifications in the West Central African interior, where they often strengthened local institutions of slavery. Most of West Central Africa was integrated in the colonial state of Angola.

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:First published 2012
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Vos, Dr Jelmer
Authors: Vos, J.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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