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"I want to know my father and to have him know me. Oddly, my sisters do not share these feelings. It is enough for them just to be his daughters."

Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba is a fictional diary written by Patricia C. McKissack. It was the sixth book in Scholastic's series The Royal Diaries. The book was published in September 2000 and was followed by Kaiulani: The People's Princess. It was also translated into French for the Mon Histoire series.

The story follows Nzingha, daughter of the King of Ndongo (present-day Angola) as she struggles to prove herself to her father.


"To Onawumi Jean Moss"

Book description[]

"First Month of Mbangala:
The Season When the Grass is Burned

So here I am in the garden, writing... if these words have magic, then I will use them to plot and plan a way to drive the Portuguese from our land. And maybe one day my pages will tell others that I, Nzingha, First Daughter of Kiluanji, was Mbundu, one of a powerful people who are free and unafraid to fight for our beloved homeland of Ndongo in the Kwanza River Valley.
Later the Same Evening
My sisters have found me. Kifunji cannot resist teasing. She gives a big laugh. "Writing is good for you, sister. To see you sitting quietly is such a rare pleasure. Isn't it better than hurling a spear, or wrestling some boy to the ground?"... I am accused of being independent. It is true, I suppose, for I would rather be kept in an open basket than a
lukata—a box."

"Partage le journal de Nzingha et vis avec elle le destin d'une jeune princesse africaine.
Juillet 1595. Me voiei dans le jardin en train d'écrire dans la langue de notre pire ennemi. Si les mots ont un pouvoir magique, ils me serviront à prépater un plan pour chasser les Portugais de notre pays. Peut-être on jour, ces quelques pages apprendront elles à d'autres que moi, Nzingha, première fille du ngola Kiluanji, j'étais une Mbundue, de ce peuple libre et puissant qui n'eut paspeur de défendre notre bien-aimé pays Ndogo, dans la vallée du fleuve Cuanza.


Nzingha is the eldest daughter of Ngola Ndambi Kiluanji, ruler of the Mbundu people of Ndongo. Her mother Kenjela, the Ngola's second wife, secretly arranges for Nzingha and her sisters, Mukambu and Kifunji, to take lessons with Father Giovanni. Nzingha distrusts him for being Portuguese, since the Mbundu are currently at war with Portuguese invaders. Her father returns from battle a few months later, along with Nzingha's friend and mentor, Njali, who has taught her extensively about fighting and hunting.

A few weeks later, Nzingha's father holds court, when Nzingha openly criticizes his trust in Father Giovanni. Nzingha and her sisters, who stand with her, are banished from court for several weeks. Njali arranges for Nzingha to see her father near the river in order to apologize. He accepts her apology and later, with the priest's intervention, Nzingha and her sisters are allowed back at court. Before Nzingha's coming-of-age ceremony, a prince from the Mbundu's southern clans named Azeze. She later expresses relief at his departure, saying "I am not myself when he is around."

In January, Nzingha and Mukambu shows off her skill with a bow and arrow to her father and then joins him on a hunt, fulfilling her dearest wish. After hunting with his daughters, Kiluanji begins spending a lot of time with them, causing irritation among Mbandi's people. At the same time, Njali grows distant from Nzingha, which makes her suspicious. The following April, Nzingha and her sisters capture two Pombeiros, slave traders for the Portuguese.

The Pombeiros deliver a message from the Portuguese governor, João Furtado de Mendonça, who wants to negotiate a peace treaty. He declines, but secretly sends Nzingha to meet him, accompanied by Njali and Father Giovanni. In Luanda, Nzingha meets with the governor, who requests slaves in exchange for wealth. Before going home, Nzingha is captured by Pombeiros with Njali's help, but is saved by Father Giovanni. Several weeks later, Nzingha learns that Njali is actually a double agent. In September, Azeze puts in a bride offer for Nzingha.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba characters
  • Nzingha, the eldest daughter of Ngola Ndambi Kiluanji, ruler of the Ndongo kingdom. She finds her half-brother, Mbandi, incompetent, and secretly wishes to become Ngola instead of him.
  • Kifunji and Mukambu, Nzingha's younger sisters. They stand with Nzingha through thick and thin, even when her actions cause them trouble.


Main article: Patricia C. McKissack

Patricia C. McKissack was an American children's author best known for writing about African-American history and issues. She wrote three books in the Dear America series, including A Picture of Freedom, Color Me Dark, and Look to the Hills. Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba was her sole entry in The Royal Diaries. McKissack first learned about Nzingha through a poster entitled "Great Kings and Queens of Africa." In 1999, she vacationed with her husband in Lisbon, Portugal, where she stumbled upon a rare biography about Nzingha. She was later able to borrow an English edition of the book through her library's inter-loan system.



  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2001)[6]


  • The cover of the original The Royal Diaries edition was illustrated by Tim O'Brien.


See also[]

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