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

Prologue,   pp. 1-2


Page 1

1 .


Prologue
1.       I have chosen to write certain things about the rivers of Guinea
of Cape Verde, beginning at the river of Sanaga (Senegal) and going
as far as Serra Leoa, which is the limit of (the coast.administered
from) Santiago Island, because I truly know these parts; and on matters
about which I am uncertain I have obtained information from persons who
ire experienced in the same parts and knowledgable concerning them.
I have chosen to write about this Guinea, as I nave just stated, even
though many persons have previously written about it, because it is
likely that they Were not ible to give as true in account as I can,
since I have seen a. lar.--e part of it and traded in many of the rivers.
But, I repeat, on what I ivts not certain about, I have also sought
information from others. I ann going to discuss briefly the customs of
the blacks, their dress and their arms, their wars, and all other matters
of interest in these parts.
2.       There have been no authors among the blacks of this Africa of ours,
nor in addressing one another have the blacks employed any form of
written communication. It is true that among them there are blacks who
are considered as holy men, called bixirins; these write on paper and in
bound books, of quarto and demi-folio size, but their writings are of use
only to those who write them, for the others do not know how to read and
therefore do not understand them. This being so, it is not possible to
learn about things that happened in the past among the blacks, because the3
have knowledge of these events (only) as legends., And since men's
memories cannot take in much, and what is taken in can last only as long
as the period Time takes to consume and alter it - this is reason enough
why we cannot gain much knowledge from these blacks, or learn about
anything other than the various things which they keep in their mind
and recollection. Things worthy of being written down do happen among
them, but as they have no-one to do the writing, Time itself swallows up
the events and brings it about that they are forgotten.


 


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