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

Page 12


placed on a wooden litter like a bier, to bury it, the maximin had
questions put to it by a witch, here called a Jabacouse, begging it to
tell them the truth : whose was the soul it bore within it? What answer
could there be from a creature now lacking all feeling and never having
other than the life of the senses (?) ?  The savage maximin persisted
' 5Since you refuse to confess and answer, I order you never more to return
to the world in the form of a brute so given to ill-doing and so voracious
as to eat human flesh.  If you are overcome by the desire to return, let
it be by taking another body; but if it is that of an animal, in no case
let it be that of a leopard.  Unite yourself to one with a better nature,
one more humane.  And so that you are moved to pity, contemplate the loss
you have caused : give it your full consideration." As if the devil
those who are his would have any pityl  To such an extent do the heathen
deceive themselves! The maximin finished his speech, and they then
carried off this untamed animal for burial, with great funereal pomp.
The heathen communicate with each other by whistling, this being so
generally done that /f.28v/ the whistles carry the meaning of things just
as nouns and verbs do with us.    Women use a hooting noise. Bambalous
are also used to signal what they want announced in a very public way
within districts or among neighbouring villages, and these serve the same
purpose as do sentinels and beacons, so that as soon as the sound of the
bambalous is heard this is the signal for all to listen (to the message).
Since previously I only spoke of the bambalous in passing, I now wish to
provide in some detail an accurate account of this form of instrument.
There are various sorts, some larger and some smaller, (all) in shape and
(u) The Papel, Bijago and Balanta heathen do the same. Also by bambalous,
as stated below. ,The Bagas do the same by hooting, a man calling u,u,
and a woman three times, u,u,u. The Bagas of Furna call out to their
friends uto, which means tthey love', and as a sign of love they call
to them like dogs, playing the fool like Joao Palha. Uxo means
'friend' in the Bijago language.


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