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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 3: The lands peopled by the Mandingas and Sonequei,   pp. 1-12 ff.

Page 12

of white men. If our ships touch their shores they plunder the goods and
make the white crew their prisoners, and they sell them in those places
where they normally trade for cows, goats, dogs, iron-bars and various
cloths. The only thing these braves will have nothing to do with, is
wine from Portugal, which they believe is the blood of their own people
and hence will not drink.
It is pitiful to relate what white men suffer when captives
among these savages. They immediately strip them, leaving only the meanest
garments on their bodies. Although the captives are given plenty to eat
by their masters this is because of the gain the latter hope to make by
selling them, gain which, however slight, will repay the host for his food.
They are treated by the heathen as if they were lunatics, and a couple of
hundred children follow them around. This happened to a Benedictine monk
who, together with a captain, fell into their hands. The savages took his
robe and thus made it difficult for him to work in Cacheu. The fertility
of their lands and the industry of the people, which result in there being
no lack of the various foodstuffs found in Guinea, are the reasons for this
hostility. They have rice, funde, milho, and earth-crops, end they raise
large quantities of cows and goats and consequently have much milk and
All of them are skilled at fishing, and at wine-tapping, there
being plenty of palm-trees on which to exercise their skill. They are
notable farmers, so successful that the abundance of products has corrupted
their natural ambition. For only the person who does not Ave among a
sufficiency of what is needful for him learns to seek out the Good, or at
least what he thinks to be good. This can be seen with regard to many of
the heathen in this Ethiopia who without doubt were greater tyrants than
the Falupos and Arriatas when they lived in the same fortunate state. I
could demonstrate this by various examples /f.14/ relating to many
different peoples who, if they wish to cultivate our friendship, do so
only out of self-interest, because in this way they can obtain a supply
of whatever goods they lack. Since all of these goods abound with the
Felupos, the Lord has worked well on them so that their cruel nature is
tempered in such a way that they serve as agents of divine justice, in
relation to those who by His secret judgements fall into his hands. Their
lives are always spared, since He does not chose to pass over the reins of
life to these savages to the point where they might tighten them with
their own hands, a decision he reserves for Himself. We see this daily,
so that however rough and yokelish the heathen are, they never do harm (to
this extent) to any captive in their power. If sometimes on the contrary
it does happen (that whites are killed by blacks) this occurs at sea. There,
in order to safeguard themselves when seizing goods, the heathen first kill
those who are least on their guard, as happened in 1612.


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