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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 8: The renowned Island of Bussis, the character and organisation of its people, the richness of the land, and the royal state of its great king,   pp. 1-9


Page 4

4.
His bearing is solemn. More often than not he is seated on a chair
lined with velvet, for he has several of these and makes most use of them
when delivering judgements. The captains convey goods to him on his
verbal request and he pays them well, although what he pays is usually
related to how much an individual pleases him. He shows great respect
to captains of vessels, but they are expected to give him handsome presents;
and he consents to eat with them, though he never eats with other persons,
a restriction arising from his sense of hauteur. He is in the habit of
giving away some of his castrated animals as presents, and adding a slave.
Yet
all the heathen (give presents merely to obtain) a compensating advantage
in
return, a characteristic of the people of this Ethiopia, who whether they
give little or much never do so other than in the hope of getting more back.
They have a proverb - Give a hen, hope for a goat: give a goat, hope for
a
cow ! Because these savages have no horses, they use oxen instead, after
castrating them to make them fatter. The oxen become so tame and tractable
that they insert a rope through their nostrils to act as reins so that they
can ride them /f.31/, and they can travel on these oxen for a fair number
of leagues. However the oxen tire easily because of their great size. To
make them go more quickly they beat them with sticks shaped to the thickness
of a palm, and give them such thwacks on the belly that they can be heard
a
good distance away. These oxen provide the mounts for the Papels and for
the other heathen inhabiting these lands.
Now let us be more specific. In material power this savage is far
above all the other kings and lords of this Ethiopia. As everyone
concedes, he alone is king, and he behaves accordingly, requiring obedience
appropriate to the royal dignity. He maintains an elevated royal state
befitting his royal person; and this is more extreme than if his state were
one due to Grace,    although he has displayed outward signs of desiring
this state of Grace. But he has such false instructors in the faith that,
instead of providing him with a good reputation deriving from the funda-
mental virtue of the House of the Lord, they disparage this with their
works of hell. For these people sell their own Christian slave-women to
serve the appetite of the savage, as Jorge Fernandes Granjo and other
captains have donW^   and another of those lancados about whom I have spoken
(f)  The land which does not know the plough and is still virgin always
produces the finest fruits: so it is with religious conversion, in
cases where the plough of bad example has not been at work.
(g)  A nephew of Antonio Nunes, by (name of ? ) Luis Afonso, he sold the
slaves whom he inherited from Antonio Nunes in Guinea.


 


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