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date: 06 December 2023

Kafuxi Ambari of Kisamalocked

Kafuxi Ambari of Kisamalocked

  • Crislayne AlfagaliCrislayne AlfagaliDepartment of History, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro Technical Scientific Centre


Kafuxi Ambari was a key leader in the history of west central Africa, one who became a symbol of the political and military roles of African authorities under European occupation. Kafuxi Ambari refers to both a leadership position with spiritual connotations, used to describe individuals with a particular vocation, as well as the individuals who held that political title. The ruler (soba) had control over other authorities and dependents who honored him, paying tribute and fighting his battles. In return, he offered them spiritual and material protection. Kafuxi Ambari ruled the eastern part of Kisama, a region south of the Kwanza River, part of present-day Angola. He is remembered for the successive defeats he inflicted on Portuguese forces in the 16th and 17th centuries, especially his notable victory in the battle of 1594, which protected his lands and blocked the advance of Portuguese occupation and expansion of the slave trade in his territory. His efforts, along with those of other leaders, to host fugitives from slavery enshrined Kisama as a rebel territory, which remained autonomous and little known to colonial agents until the beginning of the 20th century. Over time, Kafuxi Ambari remained a respected and feared name and title, even as it weakened on account of colonial expansion. Kafuxi Ambari embodied resistance against colonialism and human trafficking that still reverberates in the local memories of Kisama residents. Although historians have paid attention to Kafuxi Ambari’s historical roles, there is still much to learn about the history of Kisama, its leaders, and its residents, all of which reveal the role of the slave trade and its link to power relations and political practices.


  • Slavery and Slave Trade

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