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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 4: The town of Cacheu, a place of treasure, and the condition of its population,   pp. 1-8

Page 2

Let us leave it as Vila Quente district.  It is not fair to
deprive it of its heat since we have found no-one who can explain the
true derivation of this name, while the popular explanation, being in
bad taste, it is better to be evasive and remain silent about than to
offend by discussing. As I have said, the full extent in length is about
two musket-shots; in width, it is only that of its houses. Most of these
belong to Portuguese, and are square-shaped, large and well placed, some
having an upper floor.  The walls are of burnt brick and are roofed over
with cibe leaves, which are very large and therefore very suitable,
although they have to be renewed annually, on account of the heat which
damages them in summer. Inside they have combetes, which are square,
with walls like those of the house, but whose roofs are first covered witlyi
closely-set timber and then with earth. This design is most praiseworthy.
Those who live in these parts should thank the man who first thought of
it, for because of him the common loss of goods which on land is caused
annually by fires is greatly reduced. Similarly (by equal forethought)
they could avoid many very great losses at sea, especially on this coast,
if the contractors did not so notably neglect to provide vessels for it,
to comply with a specific decree of His Majesty : their lack of compliance,
which is culpable as it is deliberate, deprives them of the right to large
grants in compensation. In this district the houses are almost all round,
although of the same material as was mentioned. Here are also living a
number of Portuguese and other whites as guests (?) but others have their
own houses in which tenants ( ? also ) live. This is the district princip-
ally inhabited by common people and persons in employment, all of them free
persons, who maintain themselves by their daily work and wages, being
carpenters, sailors and men in other sea-going trades.
Having discussed the sort of persons who live in Vila Quente, now
let us discuss those who live in Vila Fria (Cold-Town), so that there can
be no discrimination to which the envious can point. Cacheu has all that
is needful for a well-organised community. On the spiritual side it is in
the hands of pastors of outstanding and super-ior wisdom; on the temporal
side, in all those respects relating to the preservation of life and to
good conduct it has no need to envy Europe.  Since those who make their
homes there have large houses and varied lines of commerce, which they
conduct in the interior as wen as by sea, they are not only in the main
very well-off but they all follow a very glittering life-style. (a)
(a) Character of the settlers. See Chapter S.


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