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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)
(1990)

Chapter 4: The town of Cacheu, a place of treasure, and the condition of its population,   pp. 1-8


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Chapter 4
The town of Cacheu, a place of treasure, and the condition of its
population.
After Cabo Roxo, the point at which we concluded the last chapter,
the land to the East forms a bay which extends to the entrance of Rio de
Cacheu.  This makes the estuary as wide as it 4s dangerous, dangerous on
account of many shallows and tight corners right across it, on which many
ships have been lost.  From here to the port, taking the estuary and river
together, is 15 leagues. The settlement has two older names or titles.
The first, Cacheu, was given by the natives and its etymology is not known
to us. It may derive from the name of some king, just as the town on the
(Windward) Coast is called Porto de Ale after the name of the king who used
to live there, Ale. But if not, it will be no easy task to discover why it
bears this first name. Its second name, Rio de S. Domingos, although it
does not really describe a place on land, is more interestilng, and of more
profit to the land since it is, of course, the name of the patriarch of the
holy and religious Order of Freachers. The third name is /f.14v/ incompar-
ably and altogether superior to the others, to as great an extent as the
Queen of Angels is superior to all created things.   This name was given
to
the town by the captains and soldiers living there, in gratitude for the
signal victory they won over the neighbouring heathen, when the Sacred
Virgin fought here in the midst of her soldiers.   The successful outcome
being hers, inasmuch as she .as mistress in the field of both armies, her
name was taken (for the ter.') in the form, Our Lady of Victory, and this
is the correct explanation of the third name of this port.
The whole site of the settlement is flat.   It is rendered agree-
able by the variety of trees surrounding it, large cotton-trees, palm-
trees, and a similar sort of tree which bears an even greater resemblance
to the coconut because its fruit, though smaller, is somewhat like a
coconut - such trees are called cibes. But the spot is made less healthy
by the lack of springs and streams, and the nearest water-supply is
insalubrious, causing much sickness and being very inconvenient for the
whole population.   In extent it is about two musket-shots in length,
including the district of St Anthony, a finer name for it and a very suit-
able one because of the variety of inhabitants and their devotion to the
great Portuguese saint. A finer name, did I say ? If its other name of
Vila Quente (Hot-Town) refers to the burning chairity of its inhabitants,
then it is in no respect inferior to finer names, for anyone with that
virtue is so incomparably of the first rank that the rest of us can only
follow after.


 


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