Njinga, the queen of Angola

“In the 17th century a warrior woman fights for the independence of Angola. After witnessing the murder of her son and watching her people being humiliated by Portuguese colonizers, Njinga will become a Queen and struggle for their liberation embodying the motto: those who stay fight to win”.

This how the movie Njinga, Queen of Angola was presented this month in Brussels. This Angolan production was screened at the Cinema Galeries in the framework of the Cinefest Luso Mundo festival. Throughout this month, this festival screened several Portuguese-speaking productions under the topic “Women and Muses”. 

“In this edition of the festival we chose to bring the feminine universe to the forefront. Why? To challenge the viewer to really reflect on issues that remain far from resolved today: gender identity, gender stereotypes, empowerment and representation of women. With Cinefest Luso Mundo, we aim to open the debate on social issues that affect Portuguese-speaking communities, but also the world in general.” explained Monica Musoni, press officer for the Cinefest Luso Mundo.

Njinga, the queen of Angola

“Njinga was a powerful and important woman for the identity of Angola. She was ruling the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms – what is known today as our Country, Angola. Njinga represents our roots.” said Elizabeth Simbrão, Ambassador of Angola to the Kingdom of Belgium.

Around the turn of the 17th century, the independent kingdoms and states of the Central African coast were threatened by Portuguese attempts to colonize Luanda. (Luanda, today the capital of Angola, was founded in 1576.) Portugal sought to colonize the region in order to control the trade in African slaves, and attacked many of their old trading partners to further this goal.

Unlike many other rulers at the time, Njinga was able to adapt to these changing circumstances and fluctuations in power around her. By her own determination and refusal to give in to the Portuguese without a fight, she transformed her kingdom into a formidable commercial state on equal footing with the Portuguese colonies.

The movie was produced in 2013 and directed by Sergio Graciano (Portuguese film-director). Njinga is performed by Lesliana Pereira, an Angolan actress and model. The film was not only commercially successful but also garnered her awards including Best actress at Africa Movie Academy Awards.

Lesliana Pereira, an Angolan actress and model