Angola: Mbanza Kongo Projects Makes Strides Toward Recognition

Luanda — The process of registration of the Mbanza Kongo Project as a world heritage with the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has made great strides with the start of archeological excavations in 2012.

Led by experts from the Angolan Ministry of Culture (MINCULT) , assisted by UNESCO specialists, the process is scheduled to end in the first half of 2013, when the authorities believe all conditions for the formal submission of the application for registration of the ancient capital of the Kongo Kingdom as a world cultural heritage.

Launched in 2007, with an international round table called "Mbanza Kongo - a city to unearth to preserve", the project is currently in very advanced stage towards its registration, with various actions intended to address some snags hindering the Mbanza Kongo urban development plan.

An important step in this process is the conclusion of the archeological works and subsequent laboratory tests of the vestiges of the former city which will determine the registration soon of the history of Mbanza Koongo as a world heritage.

Besides the excavation, there is also another group of experts that is handling the written records advocating for the city to be proclaimed a world heritage, in a clear demonstration of the will of the Angolan Government to respond the items required for the international recognition of Mbanza Kongo.

The technicians of the Ministry of Culture and the UNESCO experts have so far conducted cartographic studies for the delimitation of the protection area and geophysics prospecting.

In a concerted mission between the Central Government and local authorities, the Ministry of Culture received throughout the year, the guarantee that another obstacle would be removed, that is the airport located in the area delimitated as a way of facilitating the work of valorisation of the historical zone.

The airport area is considered by the technicians of relevant importance for the process, as it is where the remains of Nzinga-a-Nvemba (king's mother) and the king of Kongo were buried , making this place a historical area that should be preserved.

As a result of the concert, the new airport will be built in the town of N'kiende II, some 30 kilometres of Mbanza Kongo city.

Combining the various interests at stake, the Ministry of Culture and the local government set targets and tasks that aim to transform M'banza Kongo into a cultural tourism resort, which will host the buildings and tangible and intangible heritage, with the signing of a protocol.

Such agreement ensures the preservation of monuments and historical sites of the city of M'banza Kongo, reset and redial the areas of archaeological excavations to be made by experts in the cultural sector in the city's historic district, properly classified, and the promotion of the city of M 'banza Kongo as a cultural hub, and spiritual tourism site.

MINCULT has also outlined a programme for the construction of the Monument to the King of Kongo D. Antonio I, whose model and technical details were presented to government authorities of the province, as well as the expansion of the Museum of the Kings of Kongo and construction of the future House of Culture.

The intention is that the Executive of M'banza Kongo, a city with over a half a millennium of existence, recovers the greatness of its past and elevate it to a heritage of mankind, which is more than just unearthing the treasures and involves the modernisation of its infrastructures.

The mission previously established since 2007 is valuing the local historical and cultural heritage site, with the aim of making the province a tourist site, digging up his past and creating foundations for its preservation.

The impact of the culture of Congo spread over the years in the African continent and some countries of America and Europe, through the transatlantic slave trade.

Among the numerous arguments to be presented for the transformation of the Land of the Kings into a world heritage , stress goes to the sitautio of the Kongo Kingdom in the late sixteenth century, the people's resistance to the Portuguese occupation of Congo, the preservation of its values and the defence of their ideals before the traditional clash with the culture of the Portuguese colonisers.

Despite many studies of the Land of Kings, it is believed that the history of the Kingdom of Congo, as well as certain aspects of its political, economic and social dimension are not well known.

Mbanza Congo was in the seventeenth century, the largest village on the west coast of Central Africa, with a population density of 40,000 inhabitants (indigenous) and four thousand Europeans.

With its decline, the city that was at the centre of the kingdom in full golden age, became a mystical and spiritual home of the Kikongo ethno-linguistic group, home to the Republics of Angola, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon, with origins in Mbanza Congo.

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