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Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba (c. 1456–1542 or 1543), also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.
In 1526 Afonso wrote a series of letters condemning the violent behavior of the Portuguese in his country and the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. At one point he accused them of assisting brigands in his own country and illegally purchasing free people as slaves. He also threatened to close the trade altogether. However, in the end, Afonso established an examination committee to determine the legality of all enslaved persons presented for sale.
Afonso was a determined soldier and extended Kongo’s effective control to the south. His letter of 5 October 1514 reveals the connections between Afonso’s men, Portuguese mercenaries in Kongo’s service and the capture and sale of slaves by his forces, many of which he retained in his own service.
In 1526 Afonso wrote two letters concerning the slave trade to the king of Portugal, decrying the rapid destabilization of his kingdom as the Portuguese slave traders intensified their efforts.