Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Congo (properly Mnisri-Kongo, plural Eshi-Kongo, Congo People), an historical West African Bantu nation, who occupy the region traversed by the Lower Zaire, which from them takes the name of the river Congo. At the arrival of the Portuguese (1484), the paramount mani (king, emperor) exercised a nominal authority over six vassal princes, who, after their conversion (1487), received the Portuguese titles of Dukes, Counts, and Marquises. The mani became a sova (Port, soberano, sovereign), and his capital, Banza-Congo (Ambassi), took the name of San Salvador, which it still retains. This place became a great centre of civilising influences, and its splendours (churches, convents, palaces) are described in glowing language by contemporary writers. Even after its destruction by the hordes of Jagga savages about 1550, it rose from its ashes more magnificent than ever, and at the beginning of the 17th century was a flourishing city of 40,000 inhabitants. But in 1636 a civil war broke out between the sova and a powerful vassal, resulting in the triumph of the latter and the expulsion of the Portuguese. Since then San Salvador has again become a mere banza (native village), whose hovels are grouped round the scarcely visible ruins of its former greatness. But numerous reminiscences of Portuguese culture still survive amongst the Congo people, who are certainly the most civilised of all Bantu nations. Their language (Kishi Kongo) has been cultivated for over 300 years, and is the most polished and richest of all Bantu idioms ; current along the western seaboard from Loango to Angola, and for about 150 miles inland. See Rev. W. Holman Bentley's Dictionary, etc., of the Kongo Language; London, 1887.