• Little Known Black History Fact: King Alfonso of the Kongo

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    Throughout King Alfonso’s reign, letters in Portuguese were sent between other Kings describing the over-saturation of the Portuguese influence from the King’s officials.

    During his reign, King Alfonso I established the Roman Catholic Church in Kongo. He utilized tax funds to build the church and accompanying schools, including a school for girls. He built schools and educated over 1,000 children, though the students were those of a noble stature. Poor children were not sent to the schools. Some of the children were sent to Europe for formal education. They were educated with a heavy Portuguese influence, including their speech and dress.

    One of the other political battles fought under the rule of King Alfonso I was the illegal slave trade. It was brought to his attention that the Portuguese under his own rule were illegally trading freed slaves and kidnapping individuals at night, sending them to the coast and branding them with irons for trade. He sent letters out to the kings in Portugal about the brutality of the people within the Kongo, asking for an end to the practices. He mentioned his own declining population as more of the African people were forced into slavery. Though he tried to appeal to the sympathies of the leaders, the illegal trade only increased.

    An unsuccessful attempt was made on King Alfonso’s life before he died in 1542. His son Pedro, who was eventually overthrown by his grandson Diogo three years later, succeeded him as king.

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