The Kongolese civilization ability is Nkisi, which gives them +2 Food, +2 Production, +1 Faith, and +4 Gold from each Relic, Artifact, and Sculpture, increases the Great Artist, Great Musician, and Great Merchant points they earn, and allows their Palace to hold five Great Works. Their unique unit is the Ngao Mbeba (which replaces the Swordsman), and their unique District is the Mbanza (which replaces the Neighborhood).
Kongo is one of the most unique civilizations in the game, as it cannot build Holy Sites or found a religion, yet can still be religious and amass Faith. Able to quickly attract an endless wave of Great People to their bustling jungle empire, any contender on the Cultural track should think twice when Kongo is present.
The Kongolese are clearly inclined toward a Culture Victory, and the huge bonuses they get for archaeological Artifacts make Archaeological Museums mandatory in every city - a fully stocked (even un-themed) Museum provides its city +6 Food, +6 Production, +3 Faith, and +12 Gold each turn. Add in the bonus Culture and Tourism, and suddenly your Museums start looking more like places to house your cities, rather than the other way around. The Kongolese get the same bonuses from religious Relics, but their lack of control over whether and how they obtain them makes this bonus harder to depend on. Should you be so lucky as to become Suzerain of Kandy early on, then you can fill your oversized Palace with Relics as your early Caravels explore the world and locate Natural Wonders, and make your Capital a global powerhouse. (Do not count on this very ideal situation however, even on Huge maps, there are only 7 Natural Wonders, the chance of you discovering 5 of them early enough to have an impact on your game is astronomically small, not to mention it has to align with the probability of Kandy appearing in your game). One thing that is helpful is to build the Terracotta Army early so that your Archaeologists can plunder Artifacts from the lands of other civs with impunity.
The bonus to Great Musician points is another good reason to build your Theater Square districts, as you should have no trouble filling up your Broadcast Centers. Great Artists are a problem - you might build the Hermitage just to have someplace to stick their paintings, but for the reasons described earlier, the opportunity cost of building an Art Museum is just too high. You should only build Art Museums when you earn a Great Artist that make Sculptures, which is great in that case since the bonus will kick in earlier compared to Archaeological Museums.
The Kongolese can push their advantage in being able to make 3 different types of Great People faster by building the Oracle and effectively gaining 3 Great Person points instead of 2 points per Theater Square and Commercial Hub district. If Antananarivo is on the map, becoming its Suzerain will provide an additional 2% Culture per Great Person earned. Having both can snowball Kongo into an unstoppable civics tree lead.
In the expansions, you should build the Government Plaza and the National History Museum in your Capital so you can leverage Reyna's (or Pingala's) Curator title - if you have an Amphitheater, an Art Museum, and a Broadcast Center with all their slots filled, you'll double the Tourism output of 15 Great Works.
On the other hand, if the Kongolese "bonus" of not being able to build Holy Sites, but rather enjoying all the founder benefits of whatever religion they catch from other civs sounds like a perk, then you haven't played the Kongolese. The dominant problem faced by this civilization is that they are expected to shoot for a Cultural Victory, but have some of the worst Faith generation in the entire game, which has only ever gotten more important since the game's release. Being without the Holy Site, they only have access to their pretty bad Faith bonus from Great Works, Faith from Relics, Faith from resources (notably Dyes and Tobacco, which spawn in Rainforest), natural wonders, and Faith from their pantheon - which itself will require Faith to found. As such, every Naturalist and Rock Band is a gigantic investment, and forget doing anything else with Faith. And so lies the challenge in playing Kongo effectively - you must rely almost exclusively on your Great Works in order to accrue Tourism.
Your free Apostles can and should be used to steer your civ toward whatever religion is most beneficial - Reliquaries can have a huge impact on your Tourism, especially if you built the Mont St. Michel (and then have your Apostles pick fights like you were Montezuma) or are Suzerain of Yerevan (to always pick the Martyr Promotion) so you can score those sweet, sweet Relics. Do not go overboard and convert all your cities to one religion; if you do, you will have zero counterplay for religious civilizations going for a Religious Victory. Always keep at least one or two cities with a different religion - preferably small cities that don't have both a Mbanza and a Theater Square yet - so you can spawn an Apostle later and convert your civilization away from the winning religion.
In theory, Kongo can actually found her own pantheon, but this is rather difficult to pull off in practice. One possible route is to acquire and use the God King card, one of the first Economic Policies available to you (with Code of Laws). If you are successful in founding your own pantheon as Kongo, avoid choosing one that relies primarily or solely on Holy Sites for its benefits to work. Examples of such include Desert Folklore, and Dance of the Aurora.
Examples of pantheons that can work well with Kongo include Monument to the Gods, God of the Forge (especially with regards to the Ngao Mbeba), Goddess of Festivals, Lady of the Reeds and Marshes, Goddess of the Hunt, and Oral Tradition.
Thanks to the Mbanza, the Kongolese can start building populous, prosperous cities as early as the Medieval Era. They also don't need to worry about searching for high-Appeal tiles as civs with Neighborhoods do - any forested area is prime real estate for them.
Additionally, Mvemba a Nzinga's leader ability will cause an Apostle of the city's dominant religion (if present) to spawn when a Mbanza finishes construction. Take advantage of this to spread religions that are most beneficial as you grow your cities.
The Ngao Mbeba gives the Kongolese player great advantage in Woods or Rainforests, because of its much greater maneuverability. Furthermore, this unit is more resistant against the bane of the melee units - Archers and the like - and in vanilla Civilization VI and Rise and Fall it may be built even when the civilization doesn't have access to Iron.
Use these advantages to expand your civilization while others are still struggling to overcome all the early game difficulties that Woods and Rainforests present. Ideally you could target and conquer a nearby civilization also based around these features (Brazil, for example) to secure a strong start in the game. Scout surrounding areas well and if such a civilization exists, mass-produce Ngao Mbebas and attack!
Clearly, Kongo is a cultural civilization, with a very defensive unique unit. You should have a backup route in Scientific Victory, as the extra Production from certain types of Great Works and extra Science from high Population can help.
Kongo has a very obvious and exploitable weakness - its inability to contest a Religious Victory. If you are playing as a religious civilization with Kongo in the game, then a potential opponent is basically eliminated. But if your plan is to win another way, then the best counter to Kongo is to keep up your Spy network. The most highly-promoted Spies can steal their boosted Great Works, but even worse for Kongo is Spies' ability to prey on the Mbanzas they build en masse. If you can get a few Spies with the right Promotion, they can wreak havoc upon Kongo with the Recruit Partisans mission.
According to legend, the foundations of the kingdom called Kongo lies in the troubles of the very large but not very rich tribal kingdom of Mpemba Kasi around the Kwilu Valley. These stories state that at some point weak Mpemba Kasi forged an alliance with its militaristic neighbor Mbata, eventually conquering the kingdom of Mwene Kabunga which lay upon a mountain plateau to the south. When the warrior Nimi a Lukeni merged all this territory he made M’banza Kongo, the village on the mountain, his capital. And so the Kingdom of Kongo was birthed c. 1390 AD – a kingdom that would at its peak control a territory that reached from Africa’s mid-Atlantic coast to the Kwango River, and from Pointe Noire in the north to the Loje River in the south.
The first Manikongo (“king”) was, not surprisingly, Nimi. When Nimi died, his brother Mbokani M’vinga took over; having two wives and nine children, his fertile kanda would rule in an unbroken line for the rest of independent Kongo’s existence. His rule saw the conquest of the neighboring kingdom of Loango and other odd bits lying about. Manikongo Mbokani also began the policy of giving the governorship of Kongo provinces to kin; over time, under this centralization, the provinces lost influence until their power was more symbolic than real. (Hence, by 1620, the once proud and independent kingdom of Mbata was known only as “Grandfather of the King of Kongo.”)
Through all this, the throne supported itself through taxes, forced labor, and royal levies; at times, to finance his military, the Manikongo traded slaves, copper and ivory with the Europeans starting to arrive on the coast. It was also supported by exhorting tribute from neighboring cities and kingdoms, making M’banza Kongo one of the wealthiest African cities in the late 1500s. The kingdom continued to grow steadily, thanks to the spears of the Bantu warriors. When the Europeans arrived, the Manikongo ruled six provinces – Mpemba, Mbata, Nsundi, Mpanga, Mbemba and Soyo – as well as four vassal kingdoms (Loango, Cacongo, Ngoye and Ndongo). According to the records, the king could put 300 thousand well-trained and well-disciplined warriors (male and female) into the field in a week.
The population of Kongo was concentrated around the capital of M’banza, with some 100 thousand people living there – or one out of every five Kongolese. While it may have been urban sprawl, this concentration did allow for the stockpiling of food, resources and manpower, ready when the Manikongo required. It also made the city the center of an extensive trading network (doesn’t it always come down to money in the end); besides exporting resources such as ivory and metal ore, the kingdom’s industrious families headed businesses that manufactured copperware, other metal goods, raffia cloth, and pottery.
In 1483 the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao sailed up the “undiscovered” Congo River, in the process bumping into the Kingdom of Kongo. He left some of his men behind as “guests,” and took some Kongo officials back to Portugal, where the King of Portugal dubbed him cavaleiro (knight) for his troubles. True to his word – unique for Europeans dealing with natives – Cao returned with the nobles in 1485. It was around this time that Manikongo Nzinga a Nkuwu converted to Christianity. In 1491, Cao returned yet again, this time with a Catholic priest in tow, who formally baptized Nzinga and some of his nobles. The Manikongo took the Christian name “Joao” to honor the then-king of Portugal. Along with the priest and some others, Cao brought a Kongolese home, who opened a Portuguese-style school in M’banza. With all this, like a door-to-door salesman, once the Portuguese got their foot in the door...
Joao I, née Nzinga, was succeeded by his son Afonso I, née Mvemba a Nzinga. Whereas his father had lapsed in his conversion, by all accounts – including his own – Afonso was a devout Catholic, and dedicated to bringing his people to the light. Accepting advisors from both Portugal and the Church into his inner circle, he sought to create a synthesis between Christianity and the native faith. While he didn’t succeed with this, he did establish a viable Catholic infrastructure, using the royal treasury to fund the schools and churches – whether his subjects wanted them or not. Being short of ordained clergy, especially native speakers, a number of young nobles were sent to Europe to study religion; one of Afonso’s sons was named a bishop (of Utica, far to the north) and vicar-apostolic of the Kongo after seven years of learning the holy writ.
All this Christian charity and feel-goodness was, however, soon enough disrupted by the burgeoning slave trade in Kongo coupled with Portuguese avarice. In the decades following Cao’s arrival, the outer holdings of the Kingdom of Kongo became the major source for the Portuguese trade in human flesh. While slavery had certainly existed in Kongo long before the Europeans and Kongolese slave markets were already doing a booming business, the Portuguese engaged in a “slave rush,” with most of these bound for the Caribbean or for Brazil. Although immensely profitable, and a good way to dump prisoners taken in the kingdom’s endemic conflicts along the southern and eastern borders, successive rulers suspected that many of their own subjects were being “illegally” enslaved (when there weren’t a fresh batch of prisoners-of-war) The realm was, as a result, being destabilized. Thus, administration of the trade was organized, with royal committees established to insure that people were not illegally exported. And the legal slaves were baptized by Portuguese priests before being shipped out, so at least their souls were saved.
But it wasn’t Christianity or slavery that brought the kingdom to its demise; it was the bloody struggles over succession to the throne. Since cousins, uncles, brothers and sons of the Manikongo ruled the provinces and vassals as Mbokani had decreed, every time the king died there was the inevitable civil war as each claimant had his own little army. As a result, in 1568 the capital was taken by the Jagas, either invaders from the east or perhaps disgruntled subjects (the accounts vary); Nimi a Lukeni, or Álvaro I as the Catholics would have it, retook the town and was anointed king. But to do so he had to gain Portuguese weaponry and support, granting the Portuguese crown the site of Luanda as a colony (which eventually became Angola). A bad decision, for the Portuguese were soon meddling in internal Kongo affairs.
Álvaro, founder of the Kwilu dynasty, and his son Álvaro II – seeing the tidal wave of progress bearing down – sought to “Westernize” the kingdom. Perhaps they thought to make themselves more palatable to Europeans or merely to avoid the inevitable. In any case, most of this was superficial. Álvaro introduced European-style titles (so that Mwene Nsundi became the “Duke of Nsundi”) and his son renamed the capital Sao Salvador. In 1596, Kongolese emissaries persuaded the Pope to recognize the city as the center of a new diocese which included both Kongo and Angola; but the king of Portugal outmaneuvered Álvaro II by convincing the papacy (no doubt with appropriate “donations”) to give him the right to appoint the bishops to this new see.
Relations between Angola and Kongo soured, and then worsened (if that was possible) when the colonial governor of Angola invaded – albeit briefly – southern Kongo in 1622. Things declined ever more as factionalism set in in the kingdom, and some provincial ”dukes” made their own arrangements with the Portuguese, both military and trade (i.e., slavery). A couple decades later, Manikongo Nkanga a Lukeni (Garcia II) sided with the Dutch against the Portuguese when the former seized part of Angola in 1641. But the Dutch made a “strategic withdrawal” in 1648, leaving the Manikongo in the lurch. Border skirmishes between Kongo and Portugal over claims to the district of Mbwila (not a very large territory but neither side needed an excuse for a fight) led to the Battle of Mbwila (or Ambuila or Ulanga, depending on the historian writing the account) in October 1665.
There, a force of Portuguese musketeers and light cannon decisively defeated the Manikongo’s army; casualties among the native warriors were in excess of 5000, including the king. After the battle, the Kimpanza and the Kinlaza factions, two branches of the royal family, vied for the crown. Unresolved, the civil war dragged on into the next century, devastating the countryside while thousands of Kongolese captives were sold to slavers by both sides. The capital itself was sacked several times, and it was largely abandoned by 1696. Finally, Pedro IV of Kibangu engineered an agreement among the surviving nobles (not that many were left) rotating the kingship among them. Peace returned … sort of.
The abandoned capital of M’banza was re-occupied by the Portuguese-supported native Christian prophet Beatriz Kimpa Vita and her followers, the Antonians, in 1705 AD. The Antonian (named after St. Anthony) goal was the creation of a new, holy Christian Kingdom of Kongo directly under God’s protection. But that didn’t seem to be the case, as King Pedro IV (reigning 1696 through 1718) subsequently captured, tried and executed Beatriz as a heretic and then reoccupied the capital and restored Kongo to its rightful place as an “independent” kingdom in 1709.
Although the rotational system of kingship kept things relatively peaceful, there were still the occasional dynastic squabbles. Otherwise, things were looking up during the 18th and 19th centuries. Kongo artists began producing crucifixes depicting Christ as black, a notion that brought the last few skeptics over; so religion-ridden did the nation become that a popular story that the ruined cathedral in Sao Salvador was rebuilt by angels overnight went unquestioned. In 1836, the Portuguese – under intense British pressure – abolished the slave trade.
In the end, it was yet another dynastic squabble that spelled the end of the Kingdom of Kongo. In 1856 AD, two factions contested the kingship upon the death of Henrique II, both from the Kinlaza clan. Pedro Lelo proved victorious, although he had to resort to Portuguese troops to do so. But any deal with the devil has a price, and in 1857 Pedro V signed a treaty of vassalage to Portugal, swearing fealty to that throne. The next year, Portugal constructed a fort in Sao Salvador to house a garrison just to make sure there was no question as to who was running things. An independent state would not be seen again until 1960, in the guise of the Republic of Congo.
- Main article: Kongolese cities (Civ6)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- The Kongolese civilization's symbol is a BaKongo mask, a style of mask that is popular in the Congo region.
- The Kongolese civilization ability is named after sacred objects inhabited by spirits in traditional Kongolese religion.
City of Kongo
Playing as Kongo, have a capital city with a population of 30.
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