Kimpa Vita

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Kimpa Vita , with the baptismal name Ndona Beatrice , therefore also known as Dona Beatriz , (* 1684 ; † July 2, 1706 in Evululu in the eastern Kingdom of the Congo), was a Congolese prophetess and founded her own Christian movement, the Antonier . She is also known as the African Joan of Arc .


She came from an aristocratic Bakongo family , whose members held influential roles in traditional religion. From these, Kimpa Vita was trained as nganga marinda . As Nganga one called generally a medium that had religious knowledge and was expected to it to contact on behalf of the Community otherworldly receives world. Nganga were supposed to cure diseases that were suspected to be caused in the beyond, and they had a social function.

In 1704, during an illness, she stated that she had visions of Saint Anthony of Padua . The saint took possession of her and demanded through the prophetess a social renewal in a crisis situation. She turned against the Portuguese slave trade, which created social tensions between the urban aristocracy and the impoverished rural populations. The aim was to revive the former glorious kingdom and to restore the destroyed capital Mbanza Kongo (São Salvador), where Kimpa Vita preached to a large audience.

In 1704/06, her followers, some of whom also believed they were possessed by Antony, became an important force. The movement can be understood as a religiously accentuated rebellion against Portuguese rule and the foreign missionaries - Portuguese and Italian Capuchins . She merged elements of the African religion with elements of Christianity. For Kimpa Vita, Jesus was born in Mbanza Congo and Mary's mother was a slave.

Kimpa Vita was imprisoned in 1706 and burned as a heretic and witch at the instigation of the Capuchins .


Kirsten Rüther sees in this execution the staging of an early modern witch burning , with which the missionaries wanted to make it clear to the Bakongo that there are also things with them that are persecuted as witchcraft in Europe. Since human cremations were not detectable in Africa up to this point in time, it is possible that an unknown punishment ritual was imported into the Kingdom of the Congo (Col. 482). Self-serving ndoki (roughly translated as witchers) were not killed in the Congo at that time.

After Kimpa's death, the Congolese king Pedro IV, who had ordered her death together with a council of judges, used the movement to retake the capital . Sometimes the Kimbanguist Church is seen as the successor to the Antonians.

For the tradition of Afrocentric interpretation of the Bible, Kimpa Vita is the starting point.


Thanks to the records in the Italian Capuchin archives, especially the missionaries' diaries , the time of Kimpa Vita is one of the best documented periods in the Kingdom of the Congo.


  • Richard Gray: Kimpa Vita, Donna . In: Religion Past and Present (RGG). 4th edition, volume 4
  • Kirsten Rüther : Antonier. In: Encyclopedia of Modern Times. Volume 1, 2005, Col. 479-483
  • John K. Thornton: The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684–1706 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998, ISBN 0-521-59370-0 ( digitized version )
  • Heinrich Loth : From the snake cult to the Christ Church. Religion and Messianism in Africa . Union Verlag Berlin (GDR), 1965, pages 157-164


  • Karin Sommer: Kimpa Vita. An African Joan of Arc in the ancient Kingdom of the Congo. Bayerischer Rundfunk , May 16, 1992

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