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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 13: Reasons for the impact of this army of Manes, its marching order and its ceremonial,   pp. 1-6

Page 2

and they conquered as far as 30 North, destroying the Congo and
attacking Angola in the time of King Bernard, when Queen Catherine
was ruling Portugal. They proceeded to devastate the whole coast and
the neighbouring kingdoms, leaving behind them, in residence in the
towns, a sufficient number to hold them, with no fear of rebellion on
the part of the conquered, since they had killed and eaten the leading
citizens and put in their place their young sons. /f.83v/ These,
after seeing what had happened to their fathers, were sufficiently
instructed in how they should behave in matters of government, and in
loyalty (to the Manes).
Wearying of his conquests, Fera Messera ordered a large settlement
to be founded in this latitude of 3 . The place was wild and not very
fertile, and for this reason the Manes obtained food from certain
neighbouring towns and districts. The kings and chief lords of these
places, seeing that the army was becoming greedy for loot, decided to
put it to siege, siege by hunger, which the native heathen call in
their language dor. The most effective course they could find was to
sabotage the Manes' agriculture, and to this end they sold them (as
seed) rice which had been cooked. The Manes made their farms and planted
the seed in the earth, but the response was slight. They were surprised
at this novel state of affairs and endeavoured to find the cause. in
order to learn the complete truth about what had gone wrong, they seized
one native, and threatened to kill him if he did not explain the
mysterious events.  The black could not keep a secret and told all.
The poor heathen recounted what his betters had done - the penalty
incurred by those who ignore the words of the Saviour: "The servant
knoweth not what his lord doth" (John 15.15). The lords had made a
mistake, and this mistake was inevitably the cause of great trouble for
them, as will be seen. Fera Messera was incapable of delaying his
vengeance.  He invented new forms of cruelty to deal but in full to his
enemies. He ordered his own bow of bronze, a short one like those seen
today in Serra Leoa, to be placed in a public open place; and he had a
proclamation made in the name of Messera to the effect that whoever was
bold enough to kill and eat his own mother in public view would not
only receive great riches and many favours but would also gain the
glorious title of commander-in-chief of the conquest from then onwards.
For three months, more or less, all hearts in the army, hearts normally
so courageous, pondered on an announcement so contrary i the dictates
of the law of nature. But a Nero can always be found. Such a man wa-s


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