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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)

Part two: The Province of Sierra Leone, chapter 1: the name, situation and bounds of this province and the nature of the land,   pp. 1-18

Page 14

unless an antidote is applied immediately.   Rofo is a kind of viper.:-,
Kangreverde, which is yellowish in colour, has a deadly venom for
which there is no remedy.   Aboro is black and thick.   Iran can
swallow a deer or a buffalo up to its horns, but by sucking in these
animals it becomes so enlarged that it dies. It is not venomous.
In sum, there are large numbers of these poisonous creatures.
Of birds there is a great variety: sparrow-hawks, bastard eagles,
peacocks, parrots, and others like blackbirds; there are even some
which look like nightingales. There are two kinds of sparrows. Some
are small, and more like our sparrows: these usually go about in
flocks. Others are yellow in colour, with a black head and neck. They
undo each other's nests to steal the straw. Birds of another sort make
their nests so skillfully that, though they are nearly one covado long,
-they are placed with such care on the trees that however hard it rains,
the water cannot damage them./f.52r/ To conclude, the birds are
innumerable, and they display such a range of colours that they car
give occasion for thoughtful people to contemplate the skill and art
of the Supreme Creator.
Before I go on to talk about the sea and its contents, I would
like to discuss the camosel. This is a large land lizard which makes
its home in holes,. especially holes in the towers of the bagabaga
(that is, in ant-hills).   The largest camosel is about one covadojlong.
These animals are very fond of hens and birds, and to catch them they
hide in the most convenient places. They will eat anything, even
human flesh. To the natives, this animal is the symbol of messages
from the Enemy of all truth, just as the devil took the shape of a
snake to deceive our first parents. And to prove it, they tell how a
wonderful thing was seen in those parts from which the Manes emerged.
The Enemy of the human race entered into the animal living in the
towering hill of the bagabaga, and shouted 'Bei o Bei', meaning
'Help the King!' Now there was a village on each side of the animal.
The people came running because of the screeching and uproar, which
was the devil's work, and the two villages fought each other. Each
side had many deaths, without either knowing what had caused the alarm.
After thejhad eaten the corpses, something else happened. An old
woman was gathering firewood in the bush near the camosel. She heard
the cry, 'Help the King!' She went to investigate, and was amazed to
see an enormous lizard. When warriors started arriving, the old woman


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