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

Chapter 7: Aptitudes of these heathen, and their superstitious rites and ceremonies,   pp. 1-14

Page 1

Chapter 7
Aptitudes of these heathen, and their superstitious rites and ceremonies
They are morally depraved, being great thieves, as already stated.
They also act as couriers and envoys for the mortal enemy (of man) and of
that precious jewel which, according to Tertullian, only blushes and runs
if it remains hidden, that is, the Truth.   This the prophet (a) as greatly
longed to find in the streets and the marketplace as he wished to
dislodge from the human heart the diabolical usury of wickedness and the
many forms of double-dealing. As I have stated, they are skilled at
agriculture, (for instance,) the raising of-livestock such as cows, goats
and hens. They are equally skilled at fishing, using what are called
camboas (fish-traps), made of tara, or palm branches, or mangrove withes.
The mangrove is a tree which resembles our willow in that it grows along
the banks of rivers, but it is quite different in its foliage, which is
morc like the large leaf of our wild lentisk, the tree from which baskets
are made in Portugal at the seamon of the olive harvest. To continue,
these trees are not as thick as ash-trees but are very much taller, and
they have a great variety of uses. The fruition of the tree is
surprising, for the further it grows, the growth resembling that of a
cane, so the further it bends towards the ground. Thus it serves the
trees not only at times as a support but also as its seed. Mats are woven
from (the foliage of) these trees, though the mats are not as tightly
constructed as ours, for the withes are a thumb-width apart. In length
they are about 12 palm-spar.n, and they use them to block up the channels
which at high tide carry water to and from inner points, so that when all
the water has left at low tide they can collect a great quantity of fish.
For this reason fish are very cheap here.
The land is not lacking in 'acorns' (?) which serve the heathen here
as olive groves and vineyards serve us in Europe, for they draw from the
clusters of flowers (an oil) which is different from that produced by the
chaveo in the winter season. Winter begin±s here at the time of our
and lasts into part of autumn; /f.24v/ and in their summer season the
bunched fruit of the chaveo serves them in the same way. These two are
(a) See Isaiah,59 [ ,v.14 J7, Ibi veritas in plateis [actually quia
corruit in platea veritas, 'for truth is fallen in the streets']7,
where it means that only evil and profanity occupy the public streets
and truth everywhere is lacking, Veritas in oblivione, etc [v.15]s


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