Crucifix from the kingdom of Kongo, 1500s-1600s. Kongo was an early convert to Christianity after its king, Nzinga, was converted by Portuguese travelers moving down the African coast in the 1490s. The religion of the region had many similarities with Christianity – an afterlife, angel and demon-like entities, and a water-initiation ritual – so it was a fertile area for conversion. The Congolese kings. especially Nzinga’s son, Afonso, saw themselves as Christian kings who shared a kind of brotherhood with the Portuguese king. Unfortunately, that fellow-feeling was not returned, and the Portuguese sold weapons to rival Congolese factions, leading to the overthrow of the dynasty.