University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Africa Focus

Page View

Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Chapter 12: About the government of the heathen, the elevation of their king, and their war medicines,   pp. 1-5

Page 3

and gave it the power that those who carried it cannot be defeated but
emerge victorious; grant, 0 Lord, that this may be the case with me".
/f.82/ Then they chew it, and sprinkle it over an elephant's tail or
a horse's tail. This medicine and other medicine has enabled them, with
the Lord's permission, to make such great conquests; this is what they
Now let us say something about the source of the ingredients.
They obtain all of them from a certain Mane woman, descendant of the
Mabete family, about which I will be speaking below. She lives, with
other women, in a large town in the province and original kingdom of
Mandimansa. No men live there, although each woman has her own man who
comes to her at fixed times. When he arrives, he waits, and she sends
for him and keeps him with her for a certain number of days, after which
she sends him away, accompanying him as far as the place allowed by the
rules of her own society. If a husband arrives or departs during daylight
hours, he is veiled so that no women there should recognise the husband of
another. These women spin and sew. They have little rice, but large
quantities of different kinds of vegetables. Those who provide for them
are only peasants, and only one of these may approach this lady. He is
like a head porter, or like a personal ambassador freshly arrived from
other parts. A person who has come there to procure medicine(a) from Otne
her first speaks about/in the village which lies a good stone's throw
away from the larger and privileged settlement. The porter makes his way
to this place and to the house of the herbalist, and reports that a
certain man has come to obtain such and such a medicine. Then he sends
it to the man, after having received the payment.
(a) This woman offers and makes the medicines, after first invoking
the favour of the idol.


Go up to Top of Page