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Mota, A. Teixeira da (Avelino Teixeira); Hair, P. E. H. (Paul Edward Hedley) / Jesuit documents on the Guinea of Cape Verde and the Cape Verde Islands, 1585-1617: in English translation
(1989)

Introduction


Page

INTRODUCTION


As part of a projected series of edited early Portuguese texts on Guinea,
in
the early 1960s the late Vice-Admiral Avelino Teixeira da Mbta began to
assemble, partly from archives, documents for a volume he intended to call
'Jesuit Reports'.   As it happened, many of the documents, especially those
from Jesuit sources, were published in 1968 by another Portuguese scholar,
the  late P.Antonio Brdsio.     But Teixeira da Mota did not abandon his
project, partly because he considered that Brasio did not always take
account of all copies of a document and all variant readings, and partly
because Brasio was unable to accompany the documents with          informed
Africanist annotation.    In the   1970s Teixeira da Mota sent me his own
collection of documents to translate into English - and also so that I could
ultimately contribute part of their annotation.      My  translations were
completed just before Teixeira da Mbta died in 1982; and I have since
translated a number of other documents, all from Brasio, which help to round
out the picture. Not all of the documents were written by the Jesuits
themselves, but most were.
When it became clear that the publication of Teixeira da Mota's series would
proceed at best very slowly, I began to publish those of the translations
which were of material in the public domain, beginning with the material
printed in the early seventeenth century by Guerreiro. Since much of the
material related to Sierra Leone, I published in the Africana Research
Bldletin of the Institute of African Studies at Freetown, and am much
indebted to the organisers of that journal for providing an outlet.     The
circumstances of the production of ARB however militate against its wide
circulation, and also entail its appearance in a form which is not as ideal
as an author would wish.       Since contributions are not proof-read by
the
author, errors slip in - moreover, in the thirteen years since the first
contribution appeared I have learned more about the Jesuit mission and can
now correct same mistakes in the earlier articles. In the List of Documents
I indicate those which have already appeared in ARB, and I seize the chance
to present in the present volume a table of Errata.
Brasio's volumes are fairly widely available, and scholars with Portuguese
will of course prefer to work directly from those Portuguese texts which
Bra'sio published.   However, many Africanists have little or no Portuguese,
and increasingly students of world history, who cannot be expected to be
all
gifted polyglots, will want to examine the primary material on Black Africa
in the early period of its modern contact with other continents. It
therefore seemed to me to be unfriendly to keep any of these English
translations of Portuguese texts mouldering in the drawer, and more sensible
to issue all of them, including those that have already appeared in ARB,
in
a reasonably accessible - albeit raw and inelegant - form.  Sensible,  that
is, provided that those who use them do so with caution, and preferably only
as a crib to the original Portuguese. My translations certainly contain
errors and slips, arising in part out of my own distinctly limited knowledge
of Portuguese, while any translation is of course subject to difficulties
caused by semantic non-correspondances. A preliminary translation of the
Portuguese was prepared for me by a faithful assistant, Mrs Pamela Horner,
but subsequently I checked over the material in detail and revised the
wording of the translation considerably, not least because some knowledge
of
the African background, as well as of the historical context, is sometimes
required in order to grasp what is being stated. I have not found time to
re-check the translations, or indeed even to tidy up the the typescripts
of
the translations, before issuing this volume - therefore all errors and
inelegancies are mine.


 


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