Moon, Earth and Sky Mother
Venerated inKongo religion
SymbolsMoon, Earth
Ethnic groupBakongo
ConsortNzambi Mpungu
Roman equivalentJunoLuna
Egyptian equivalentAmunetIsis
Nubian equivalentAmesemi
Igbo equivalentAla
Akan equivalentAsase Ya

Nzambici (also called Nzambi) is the eternal God of Essence, as well as Moon, Earth and Sky Mother in Bakongo religion. She is also the female counterpart of the Kongo creator god, Nzambi Mpungu.


By the 17th century, Nzambici's importance seems to have diminished. Oral tradition from the period states that Nzambi Mpungu was surrounded by lesser spirits, including Nzambici. There is consensus among historians that this reduction of nature spirits to lesser spirits was due to the Portuguese influence of monotheism and their shunning of "idols."[1] Whereas Nzambici and Nzambi Mpungu were once "the marvel of marvels,"[2] Nzambi Mpungu began to exist independently of Nzambici, and was seen as a supreme Creator God, similar to the Christian God of Portuguese colonizers.[1]

Kongo cosmology

Oral tradition states that in the beginning, time, place and space did not exist. There was only a circular void, called mbûngi. One day, the "Sovereign Master" Nzambi Mpungu summoned a spark of fire, called kalûnga, which gained energy and burned until its flames filled mbungi. When it became too hot, it hurled pieces of debris outside of the circle. Those pieces traveled far and wide in all directions until they came to stop. When they cooled off, they were stars and planets, which formed the universe. Nzambi Mpungu then became Kalûnga, the god of fire and change.[3]

Nzambici and Nzambi Mpungu

Wanting to expand his creation, some oral traditions say that Nzambi Mpungu crafted his female counterpart named Nzambici, the god of essence. Other oral traditions say Nzambici always existed along side Nzambi Mpungu as an eternal goddess in her own right.

Nevertheless, they lived as one, watching over all they had made. That was until Nzambici stole some of his fire, or kalûnga, and gained power of her own. To punish her, Nzambi Mpungu is said to have created the earth and sent her there. But unable to stay away from her for too long, he returned to earth and married Nzambici. On earth, they created the waters, the land and the animals.[3] She subsequently became "the god on earth, the great princess, the mother of all the animals, the one who promises her daughter to the animal who shall bring her the fire from heaven."[4][2]

Nzambici and Nzambi then created the first Kongo person, or muntu.[5] Nzambici also became the great mystery of the earth, "the mother of a beautiful daughter, gives mankind all laws, ordinances, arts, games, and musical instruments." She "settles quarrels between animals, and in the stories giving her decision is embedded an immense amount of Fjort law."[2] To guide man, Nzambici and Nzambi Mpungu created nature spirits—simbi, nkisi, nkita, and kilundu—and separated the physical world, called Nseke, from the spiritual world, called Mpémba, with a boundary of water, called the kalûnga line. A mystical forest, mfinda, ran between the worlds, where nature spirits and the ancestors could travel from one world to the other and advise the living.[2] Nzambici and Nzambi Mpungu withdrew from the earth and took their place in the heavens, choosing to no longer interact with man. Man knew Nzambici as the earth and moon and Nzambi Mpungu as the sun.[3][5] Because of the duality of Nzambici and Nzambi, the Kongo people believed that the right side of the body was male, while the left side was believed to be female.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b Brown, Ras Michael (2012). African-Atlantic Cultures and the South Carolina Lowcountry (1st ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. pp. 119–121. ISBN 9781107668829.
  2. ^ a b c d Scheub, Harold (2000). A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller (1st ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 92, 93, 114, 115. ISBN 9780195124569.
  3. ^ a b c Asante, Molefi Kete; Mazama, Ama (2009). Encyclopedia of African Religion (1st ed.). SAGE Publications. pp. 120–124, 165, 166, 361. ISBN 9781412936361.
  4. ^ "Nzambi Mpungu and the Race between Moon and Sun". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
  5. ^ a b c Luyaluka, Kiatezua Lubanzadio (2017). "The Spiral as the Basic Semiotic of the Kongo Religion, the Bukongo". Journal of Black Studies. 48 (1): 91–112. doi:10.1177/0021934716678984. ISSN 0021-9347. JSTOR 26174215. S2CID 152037988.