Beatrice Kimpa Vita was born in 1684 in the Kingdom of the Kongo to a family of nobility after the death of King António I. As a young child she was said to have the gift of vision and the ability to communicate with the spirit world. She received training as an Nganga Miranda (Shaman) to help her improve her communication with the spirit world. During the early 1700’s Kimpa Vita received training as a Missionary, her Christian influence along with her uncanny abilities helped improve her abilities as well as her reputation. At the age of 20 Kimpa Vita became stricken by an illness which caused a near death experience. During her near death experience she received visions from St. Anthony of Paudua, and was said to have become reincarnated as St. Anthony. Beatrice Kimpa Vita was now said to be the physical manifestation of St. Anthony, and a force to be reckoned with. She was compelled to reunite the Kingdom of Kongo under one ruler and strengthen her people. Her mission was long overdue for a war torn nation. Kimpa Vita in her efforts to unite and strengthen the Kongo Kingdom created Antonianism; which is a mixture of Konoglese culture and history with Christianity. While moving towards uniting her Kingdom Kimpa Vita began to gain a large following which was seen as a threat to the Catholic Church.
Kimpa Vita and her following opposed the mission of the Catholic Church. She claimed to be a vessel of God completing a divine mission. In 1705 Kimpa Vita resided is Sao Salvador where she won the allegiance of Pedro Constantinho da Silva Kibenga, commander of one of King Pedro IV’s armies. Pedro Kibenga’s alliance with Kimpa Vita angered King Pedro IV and he was on a mission to eliminate Kimpa Vita. Her Antonian missionaries were sent out to gain converts to their mission, they became successful in South Soyo as well as Mbamba Lovata. Kimpa vita and her followers pushed the ideas that God, Jesus, and his saints were African and heaven was for Africans as well as whites. These ideas were contrary to the historic ideas of Christianity in the Kongo; Kimpa Vita’s ideas were revolutionary and truly empowering for her people. In 1706, Kimpa Vita was captured by King Pedro IV and charged with heresy for attempting to empower her people. She was later bound and burned at the stake. After her death the Antonian movement did not die, her followers continued to fight until they were defeated by King Pedro IV’s army in 1709. Kimpa Vita was one of Africa’s first warriors to oppose the colonization of Africa. Her ideas and beliefs helped create an all-black Christian movement designed to liberate the people of the Kongo. It is said that her ideas did not die with the movement. Her ideas are said to have become an inspiration to the “Stono Rebellion” in South Carolina as well as the Haitian Revolution. Kimpa Vita lived and died for the freedom of her people, an example we can proudly follow today. Mrs. Beatrice Kimpa Vita, we stand on your shoulders.
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