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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 11: The Island of Bissau and the nature and characteristics of its inhabitants,   pp. 1-6 ff.


Page 2

2.
refused, on the grounds that she could not give him the exact object, and
he enslaved her. Here then is another of their unjust reasons for enslave-
ment. A further instance. A man married a woman and discovered that
before she became his wife she had fallen into sin with three or four men.
This friendly husband had them all enslaved. Moreover, he asked her to
arrange to trap other: men by leading them on, so that the two of them could
earn their food this way; and he assaulted the poor wretches. Thus, for all
her offences of this kind, whenever committed, whether when she was under
an
obligation (of fidelity) to her husband, or not, that is, before she came
into his power and when she was single or a widow, the wretches had to pay
up, contrary to all notions of right. Some men are so crafty and malicious
that they beat their women in order to see if fear will make them confess.
Suppose now that a man twice commits adultery. If he is poor, the first
offence counts. But if he is rich, he wipes out this crime by paying money:
(only) the second offence counts against him. And if he has the means to
free himself he does so, but if he cannot do this he is sold. Hence whoever
falls into adultery, whether he is a freeman or otherwise, always pays; and
lords often lose their slaves this way. If a noble woman marries a commoner,
any time she pleases she can leave him and take another, or she can reject
this one and take yet another. These women are so wicked that if their
second husbands are not kind to them, they pay them out by taking any
children and returning to their first husband; and the second husband is
turned from a freeman into a slave merely by the scheming of an evil wife.
For the wife persuades her first husband that the second committed adultery
with her and the former hands over the latter for punishment. Yet it is
all untrue, since these ladies normally arrange these seizures only because
tLy have been ill-treated by particular husbands.
If a nobleman takes his own slave as wife and she gives him any cause
for dissatisfaction, he can sell her with her son, if the latter is young,
and it is of no account that the child is his. If a son has intercourse
with any of his father's wives, the father can sell him and will give the
money to the members of his Council without touching any of it himself.
If the wife of an important ruler commits adultery, he has her and the
adulterous man speared to death in a public place very early in the morning
on a fair-day, so that those attending the fair can see that justice has
been done. Relatives come to bury them but they cannot hold a wake.
Similarly there are no wakes for magicians/witches, and they are not buried
in the cemeteries I am about to describe, /f.38v/, but in an ant-hill, as
thieves are. These two sorts of persons are buried naked, and their heads


 


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