Ruler of kingdom of Kongo
Mvemba Nzinga, son of the ruler of the kingdom of Kongo, was baptized as a Christian in 1491 and took the name Afonso I. When his father died in 1506, Mvemba Nzinga became king, claiming that he had divine help in gaining the throne. He increased his power by selling ivory, copper, and slaves to Portuguese traders in exchange for exotic European goods. He then gave these valuable items to his officials and allies as rewards. Later, Mvemba Nzinga tried unsuccessfully to bypass local Portuguese merchants and deal directly with traders in Lisbon, Portugal.
An enthusiastic student of Christian teachings, Mvemba Nzinga erected churches throughout the country. He sent young nobles, including his son Henrique, to study in Portugal. Despite his Christianity, though, Mvemba Nzinga continued to practice polygamy. Some historians believe he allowed himself to be used by cooperating with the Portuguese. Others point out that Mvemba Nzinga used his trade relationship with Portugal to strengthen his own power and expand his kingdom.