Kimpa Vita was a Kongo prophetess and leader of her own Christian movement, Antonianism. She is also known as the Mother of the African revolution, as she was one of the first African women to fight against European dominance in Africa during the colonial period.
Vita was born near Mount Kibangu into a family of the Kongo nobility soon after the death of King Antonio I. As Kongo had been a Catholic kingdom for two centuries before her birth, she was baptized into the Roman Catholic church at birth. It is believed that she was connected to King António I who died at the battle of Mbwila (Ulanga) a battle orientated around the removal the Portuguese from his region. Following António I death was a time of internal strife, political unrest, and civil war.
She fought against all forms of slavery and tried to reconcile Christianity with African religions and beliefs, teaching people that black saints and white saints all got along in paradise. It was common for the Catholic priests in the area to preach during that time that only white saints were found in heaven.
As a young child, Vita had visions and dreamed she was playing with angels. She was later trained as a (Shaman) Nganga Marinda, someone who consults with the supernatural beings and world to solve problems.
Vita started the non-violent anti-Colonial movement while she was still a teenager. The purpose was to liberate the Kingdom of Kongo and return it to its former glory. She led many of her people to rebuild and repopulate Mbanza Kongo.
Kimpa Vita concerned with the restoration, spiritually and politically, of the Kongo Kingdom created the first Black Christian movement in Sub-Saharan Africa, which taught that Jesus and other early Christian figures were from the Kongo Kingdom. She placed the birth of Jesus Christ within the Kongo and identified the city of M’banza-Kongo as the new Bethlehem claiming that God wanted it restored as the capital of the Kingdom.
At the age of 20, she supposedly had a near death experience when she appeared to die of a fever. When she had been resuscitated, she believed that she now spoke with the voice of the patron saint of Kongo, and also incidentally the patron saint of Portugal, St. Anthony of Padua. She believed Saint Anthony incarnated in her body and she was the physical manifestation of the saint, who addressed the kingdom’s problems through her.
Kimpa Vita was captured near her hometown and burned at the temporary capital of Evululu as a heretic in 1706 by forces loyal to Pedro IV. She was tried under Kongo law as a witch and a heretic, with the consent and counsel of the Capuchin friars Bernardo da Gallo and Lorenzo da Lucca.