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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 7: Aptitudes of these heathen, and their superstitious rites and ceremonies,   pp. 1-14


Page 11

that person (? the witch) to feel regret and sorrow for the ill he has
done, so that he then leaves the victim alone.   But if the sick wretch
dies, they say that witches ate'him up.   No-one dies here, for to die is
to be Eaten up".   "They have eaten him" means "they
have killed him".
They do not attribute death to God, for they say that as God is good andjl
the author of all good things, including life, it is not God who takes it
away. They accept a thousand lies about the soul, believing and asserting
that it wanders about on earth; and if anyone bears a resemblance to a
dead person they say that he is the dead man's soul.    They are so imbued1.
with this idea that they consider (certain animals) as rational transform-1
ations of the human body, such as the tame snakes which make their way
about houses and are useful in the way cats are with us, also monkeys,biib
elephants, in fact any animal they fancy.
As for leopards, I will describe a remarkable thing that happened
some ten years ago at Bichangor and which was witnessed /f.28/ by whites
J1i
A woman of this town, leaving her house at dawn, met a leopard which there
and then killed her and carried her to the bush a musket-shot outside th4
town. When the citizens saw the traces of blood and f        the woman i
s|
missing, they followedjand found her in the mouth of the animal which was
feeding on her flesh.   On seeing this they rushed back to the town and
sounded the war-drums, the bambalous.   These are hollow trunks of trees
resembling our beehives, with a sort of opening on one side to make the
notes.  The people immediately assembled in large number as if they were
preparing to join battle.   In this fashion they all went to the area of
bush/Rilh their weapons at the ready they surrounded the animal. It
disregarded all of them and refused to come out. They had to ask our
people for a gun, which they fired to wound it.   At this,   t emerged
amongst those surrounding it and they scattered to save their lives. But
since there were so many of them waiting to kill it, the ferocious beast
hurt some of them badly before it was killed.   They took the body to the
town and laid it in a public place, and then the maximin(t) arrived, the
dignitary who corresponds to a viceroy or chief officer among whites and
whom the king stations here for this purpose.   After the leopard had been


(t) Maximin means Massa jum.


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