Cinthya Perez History 102 “Letters to King Jao of Portugal,” was written by the king of Kongo, King Affonso, who’s real name was Nzinga Mbemba. King Affonso writes this letter directed to the king of Portugal, King Jao, to inform him about his concerns of his people. The letter is dated 1526 and takes place in the Kingdom of Kongo, which by during this time slave trade is going on (705). Throughout the letter of King Affonso seems to beg King Jao for help rather than being demanding, “again we beg of your Highness to agree with it”(707), remarks King Affonso.
When the slave trade in Africa began, many authorities formed alliances with Europeans in hope of strengthening their government. This happened to be the case with the King of Kongo, he made a deal with the King of Portugal so that they could trade goods with each other. The Portuguese had their own plan for arriving to Kong, capturing people to turn into slaves. That is when King Affonso takes the initiative to write his concerns to King Jao. He states that King Jao’s merchants have come to Kongo to do great damage, they say they come to trade goods but end up taking his people to be sold.
This is causing the population of his people to decline. King Affonso begs King Jao to stop sending merchants to his kingdom because he will not allow slave trade. To prevent slave trading the people of Kongo passed a law to have the Portuguese merchants investigated to see if they have really came for goods and if they come for other reasons they will not trade at all with them. King Affonso also asks for medicines and surgeons to cure his sick people. It is mentioned that Nzinga Mbemba is the real name of King Affonso, he changed his name when he converted his religion into Christianity.
The influence that made him convert along with his family was to attract Europeans into trading goods, the fact that if he was willing to convert than he was willing to do whatever it took to be able to trade horses, guns and other supplies that he wanted. The text also explains how many people from Kongo were sent to Portugal to study maybe implying to King Jao that if he gave the Kongolese the tools to live a life like the Europeans then King Affonso would allow him to make more changes in Kongo to benefit him. A iece of evidence that impacts the whole document and King Affonso’s concern is that he mentions quiet frankly that he does not want his people or his noblemen taken from his land and sold into slavery. King Affonso pretty much implies that the Portuguese can go and take all the people that they want as long as they do not belong to his kingdom. The text is focused on a letter that is written by the highest authority whom had agreed to trading with these Portuguese but it does not inform on the thoughts of actually civilians experiencing and eye witnessing what is happening nor does it show any response of the King of Portugal.
In order to really find out what is really going on, it is important to understand all sides to really make a thorough conclusion of any sort of bias. I believe I can imply that if countries with lesser wealth were agreeable to converting religions in order to attract wealthier countries into trading, then they would probably be convinced to do things that they did not even want to do just to satisfy the other country. For example: when King Affonso tells King Jao of being opposed to slave trade, he should have been demanding but, instead he writes in such a nice way and often calls him “your Highness” and begs for the supplies that he needs.
As a King he should have shown his authority and put his foot down even just for his people. King Affonso does not show concern for no one but his people which leads me to think that if any other kingdom is being abused the same way, he only cares that it stop in his country. We are not presented with evidence from anyone except King Affonso and therefore I question the fact that if many African authorities around the slave trade era often agreed to slave trading, Affonso might have been just another King who benefited in some way of people being traded and changed his mind after he saw how his people were vanishing from his land. We beg of you to be agreeable and kind enough to send us two physicians and two apothecaries and one surgeon, so that they may come with their drugstores and all the necessary things to stay in our kingdoms because we are in great need of them all,” King Affonso states this in his letter to King Jao repeatedly asking for necessary items to save his people.
We can see that King Affonso is begging for these things in a time that he is desperate because he sees his people sick, when really he should have stopped this before letting the traders have so much freedom in his and and getting the people ill. Throughout the letter we can see the concern that King Affonso shows for his people but, he could have also prevented this from the start by putting forward rules for the newcomers to respect, yet he was more interested on the goods he would receive and seeking to help his government. At the end he was taken for surprise and his people were the ones paying the price for the kings’ lack of authority.