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Massangano Fort

Dondo, Angola

Massangano is a word whose origin came from Angola, with references dating from the 16th century.

Massangano, is a village, east of Luanda, in the province of Kwanza Norte. The legend about his name goes back to the time of the caravels that transported the first Portuguese´s to Angola. His helmsman, Paulo Dias de Novais, after disembarking on African soil, may have asked the name of the place to a native who quietly stepped (kneaded) corn in his pestle: “what is this place called?”, He asked. Seeing the question in a strange language, the man would have thought that the foreigner asked him what he was doing and, thus thinking, replied in Kimbundu language: “massa n’gna!” (“Corn sir!”). Paulo Dias de Novais understood that the place was called “Massangano” - a name that remains today

In search of fortune, expanding Portuguese domains, these explorers pitted black nations and kings against each other to take their lands and imprison the losers for the slave trade, a great business from the 16th century onwards. For seven years, from August 1641 to August 1648, Massangano was officially the Portuguese capital of Angola, during the Dutch invasion. Other significant names and facts occurred during the struggles to retake the place.

In 1640, Queen Nzinga (or Ginga) and her warriors attacked Fort Massangano, where her two sisters, Cambu and Fungi, were imprisoned, the latter being executed. It was a Brazilian general, Salvador Correia de Sá y Benevides, who restored Portuguese sovereignty in Luanda in 1648. In a tangle of twists and turns, these wars and their characters are part of not only the history of Angola, but also the imagination of that people and who came to Brazil, as slaves.

In this place, in 1580, the Battle of Massangano was fought, in which the Portuguese forces defeated those of King Quiluange of the kingdom of Dongo. Later, in 1582, the Portuguese forces, under the command of Captain Paulo Dias de Novais, were repelled by the Dongo, when they tried to penetrate the region, in search of the legendary silver mines. This fortification was built by Novais himself (or by Manuel Cerveira Pereira, according to other authors), on the banks of the Cuanza River, in 1583, with the function of defending the prison (establishment of military colonization) that ensured Portuguese occupation in the region.

In addition to marking the Portuguese military presence, this establishment guaranteed the integrity of commercial networks, including the slave trade to the American continent.

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