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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 6: The idol and oracle of Benle and Togma, and the nature of this superstition,   pp. 1-4


Page 1

1.


Chapter 6
The idol and oracle of Benle and Togma, and the nature of this superstition
Benle and Togma are the forms of idolatry practised by all the
heathen in this Province.   Benle is the more exclusive society.   Togma
is wider, and is subordinate to Benle, and both have as their minister
Grand Benle, or Canglo, this being the name of the chief priesta)     The
idol or oracle of these cursed societies is a sheaf of palm twigs,
sprinkled with the blood of a puppy or the blood of hens or cocks. When
the blood of animals or birds is poured over a bundle of sticks, it has
the capacity to invoke Togma.   If any member of these societies falls sick,
they hurry to this church of theirs, whose only priests are Canglos or
Benles of either sex.   Women who are priests of Benle are called Bale.
These officers of the society kill puppies over the idol, and sprinkle it
with flour. Then they go into the forest to eat the same foods, which
they take with much wine.   In this way, the cramenel and sick-offering
are completed.   The Togmas and Benles proceed in almost the same way in
their sacrifices and other rites. But they proceed in a totally different
way when it comes to deaths and burials. The Togmas die in the villages
and are buried there : they build houses over the grave, and the members
take with them all the precious things they have treasured.    Often they
have kept them for their burial-day, since they believe that the other
life will be just like this one.   But the Benles follow a different
procedure, as we will show later.
(a)  The Togmas take special names when they make their profession and
i                accept the rules of this accursed society, and if they are
called
by their former names they feel themselves dishonoured.
nslator's note:
ares, being convinced that African socio-religious cults are diabolical
imitations of Christian religious orders, uses the terminology of the
qigious orders throughout this chapter.   The translation does not retain
a J of this, but instead uses the terminology of modern descriptions of
these African societies. Thus, tcongregaclot is translated ?society', etc.


 


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