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Almada, André Alvares d', fl. 1594, et al. / Brief treatise on the rivers of Guinea
Part II (1984)

[Notes for chapter 15]


...this is the procedure among them.

ROYAL SUCCESSION.      The principles and procedures of succession to
Guinea 'kingdom&' were commonly a prime interest of early European
observers, reflecting the contemporary importance of monarchies in
Europe. But of course the observations were biased by the European
experience. Almada, writing a decade after a bitter disputed success-
ion in Portugal, has already discussed principles of succession in
earlier chapters (1/6,2/4,8/12,11/5,12/7). His present account of
succession among the Sapes was borrowed and repeated in print
(GUERREIRO 1605,liv.4,cap.9,f.137); and followed in many later sources.
A century earlier, in the 1500s, Fernandes commented ambiguously on
the political structure in Sierra Leone : each Bullom town had a king
and some a "lord of all", while the Scarcies Temne had a "lord"
kings held council with elders, who could overrule the king. Nothing
was said about royal succession, but common inheritance was to the
brother and then back to the son (FERNANDES,ff.128v-129,133v). In
1582, the English were told by Portuguese informants that at Sierra
Leone "the fyrste wyfe is the cheyfeste and her son injoyeth the crown
...yf the kynge dye leaving his sonnes under yeares of discretyon to
governe, then he appoyntethe the eldred of his kindred to be his protect-
eur who shall governe the kyngedome, but yf the kynges sone durynge
this protecteurs lyfe come to his yeares, yet he, the protecteur will
be kynge duringe his owne lyfe" (WALKER,f.208;cf.MADOX f.38v). Father
Alvares stated that the rule of royal succession was to the son, "or
if the son is incapable to the oldest brother of the dead king, or to
one of his nearest relatives" (ALVARES,f.58).   Among the Kquoja of
Cape Mount in the early seventeenth century, royal and common inherit-
ance was to the oldest surviving brother (DAPPER,pp.405/35,411/42).
Late eighteenth century English sources stressed that monarchy among the
Temne, Bullom and Susu was 'elective' (MATTHEWS,p.74) : "the rights
primogeniture are not much attended to...the crown remains in the
family, but the chief or head men upon whom the election of a king
depends, are at liberty to nominate a very distant branch of that
family" (WINTERBOTTOM,p.124) - or even, some said, a well-qualified
stranger (MATTHEWS,p.75; AFZELIUSf.2/113). Among the modern Teme,
according to the unsystematic accounts available, common inheritance
of personal property is to sons, but of family property, especially
land, to brothers, and then back to the oldest brother's sons, with
uncles acting as guardians for minors. The succession to chieftaincy
is usually to the oldest suitable male of alternate ruling kin-groups

15/1 ... hi esta ordem antre eles.


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