Modern flag of the Democrartic Republic of the Congo
Today, scientists believe that Kongo culture originated from the Nòk culture that prevailed about 2,500 years ago in the area where the Nago people live today. Apparently, some Nòk people migrated south to the Kongo region. This southern migration occurred in several stages and is called the Banntu (Bantu) migration which literally means the migration of many people. The KiKongo term, bann, for many is retained in Haitian Creole.
The Kongo Kingdom appears to have been established around 1390 by Lukeni Lua Nimi who conquered the people in the area and made Mbanza Kongo, the capital of his Kingdom. As the Kongo Kingdom became more and more powerful, other surrounding nations had to pay tribute to it. For example, Wangol, Angola, and the Banda or Kimbanda people paid tribute to the Kongo state. Although historians believe that Lukeni Lua Nimi created the Kongo Kingdom, Bakongo culture existed long before him. Anthropologists have uncovered metal currencies in the Kongo that date to the 9th century, long before the existence of the Kongo Kingdom.
The Kongo Kingdom was the largest and among the most populous states of Ginen (West Africa). The Kongo Kingdom was a huge part of West Central Africa. By the16th century, it included a large portion of the Kikongo and Bakongo speaking people. Kongo or Petwo in Haiti often refers to the whole of West Central Africa. People from this region took on this new identity because they shared religious and cultural practices.
By the time of the Haitian Revolution, nearly 50% of the people in Haiti came from the Kongo area. Kongo people were so common in Haiti that the Kreyòl word moun is a variant of the Kikongo word mountou or muntu, meaning person. Kongo influence is common throughout the Americas. PwaKongo, a pea native to the Kongo was imported and grown on President Jimmy Carter parents’ farm in Georgia. In Brazil, Kongo influence gave rise to the martial art, Capoiera and to the religion, Palo Mayombe.
Today, Kongo spirits and religious concepts are vibrant in Haiti. Simbi, Boumba, Kita, Penba, Pwen, Pakèt Kongo,Kafou, Gran Chemen, Genbo (Mgombo), Donki bwa,Poungwe are among the many Kongo contributions to Haitian religious beliefs.
Numerous Kongo leaders are remembered in Haiti including Bazou, Jan Zinga, Larèn Kongo, Don Petwo and Toni Malo. Former Haitian leaders like San Sousi, Sila and Makaya were all born in the Kongo and their military experience was instrumental in the war against slavery. Haitian culture cannot be understood without understanding the contribution of the Kongolese people to our country.