You are here

Denari del Congo
Sono lummachelle morte.1 Si pescano al lido per ordine del Ré. Si chiamano Zimbo. Si spende à misura non uno ad uno.

Money of the Kongo
They are little dead snails. They are fished on the beach by order of the King. They are called Zimbo. They are spent by quantities not one by one.

  • 1. They are nzimbu shells [Olivancillaria nana]. See Cadornega and Delgado, História geral das guerras angolanas, 1680[-1681], 2:269; António Brásio, Monumenta missionaria africana. Africa ocidental, 2nd ed. (Lisbon: Agência Geral do Ultramar Divisão de Publicacões e Biblioteca, 1958), 4: 537-39, 618. See also Toby Green, A fistful of shells: West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2021); Edouard Mambu Ma Khenzu, "A modern history of monetary and financial systems of Congo 1885-1995" (Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Greenwich, 2003).
Do you have insights you'd like to share? We welcome comments that help further the conversation about this object (such as references of comparative material, notes on translation, etc.) Comments are moderated prior to appearing on the site.