Tuesday afternoon at Fortaleza de São Miguel

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Tuesday afternoon at Fortaleza de São Miguel – the 16th century, Portuguese-built fort – after a long lunch with my good friend, Angolan visual artist Kiluanji Kia Henda. A part of Kiluanji’s practice investigates his country’s colonial history. Kiluanji’s knowledge and analysis of the post independence period is really impressive, and has led to the creation of bodies of very informative and visceral works. More on Kiluanji and the Revolution later.
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One room in the fort contains floor to ceiling friezes surrounding the room. This one depicts the 1483 arrival of the Portuguese. As Kiluanji so succinctly put it, ‘up to that moment, no white person had stepped onto Angolan / Congolese soil; that was the moment which ushered in centuries of conflict and the trauma is still ever present.’
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Depicted here is the first meeting of Queen Nzinga and Portuguese dignitaries. The Portuguese saw fit to not offer a throne for Nzinga to be seated, so she ordered one of her maid servants to offer their back as her throne.
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The Baptism of Queen Nzinga: she later denounced Christianity and remained a vehement enemy of the Portuguese until her death. She is an extremely important figure in Angolan history.

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