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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 3: The public institutions of the heathen, including their laws and legal arrangements, and the deficiencies of these,   pp. 1-6


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Chapter 3
The public institutions of the heathen, including their laws and legal
arrangements, and the deficiencies of these.
/ F. S
To start this chapter, it seems to me proper to begintwith the
native kings. There were three of these in this Province. The first
was a Temene named Massaiare. Those who accepted him as their lord and
were subject to him were the Bangues, the Cabatas, the Calus, the
Temenes and the Sapes of Turagare, hence he ruled the Serra and Logos.
The second was named Massacaeta : he was a Boulon, and all the land
which today we call. Boulons was under his sway. The third king they
called Kemenacai, a Sape king over Sapes : he ruled Mabengoma, or as
it is called by us, Casses, a district today exporting great' quantities
of cola.. Although each of these kings was like an emperor in his own
empire or kingdom, each village had its own chief or governor.
Now let us discuss the system of succession to the throne. On thc
death of the last ruler, the kingdom goes to his son; or if the son is
incapable, to the dead king's oldest brother, or to one of his nearest
relatives. Elevation to the throne and recognition as king proceed in
the following way. The heir is sought out at his residence, since he
does not care to come forward himself; and when the people arrive they
tie him up. At this stage of the proceedings they raise such an uproar,
all of them shouting and wailing, not least the king who is tied up,
that it makes one laugh to witness this lTdious ceremony. The king
makes his way in this fashion, followed by his wives and children arid a
crowd of people. When they reach the king's palace and courtyard, they
shave his head, and  ^      and strike him.  Having removed his bonds, they
take him to a funco. This is a kind of house, but it is raised up in
the air on four poles. These poles carry discs on their upper parts,
each disc the size of a large shield, in order to stop rats from attack-
ing the foodstuffs and pieces of clothing they keep there, because, in
short, they use the funco as a granary, as a wardrobe, and as a larder.
When the leading men have assembled at this place, the oldest member
of the Council makes a speech about the succession of the new king and
the reasons justifying the succession. At this point he explains to
all those standing around that the ceremony which has been carried out
was not performed because of any lack of respect for the royal person,
but because it was intended as a public lesson for a man who was going
to rule other men. Having had practical experience of physical
penalties and of rewards, he would deal with his vassals as each
deserved, administering true justice to all, and maintaining the law,


 


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