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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)

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 16



Iil t
These are the main (living) things among the many produced in
this land. Because of its full rivers, and because there is no lack
of people interested in agriculture, who can cultivate the land, and
jimprove it, by fertilizing it with the water and detritus of the
rivers, there is no grass, vegetable, fruit, seed, plant or animal
in the world that does not give promise of great increase here, not
only in the Serra but in all parts of the hinterland. Thus, as the
knowledge of agriculture and the interest in it spread among those 11'
,who are going to settle in this land, so the handsome profits from
all the activities which will develop in their time will expand too.
The plants and the land will reward their labour with the fertility
of their fruits and with all kinds of livestock and other animals,
both domesticated and wild. I mentioned knowledge and interest
'because agriculture here (faces pests such as) the bagabaza which   ji
destroy everything, a particular grass which instantly kills cows
which touch it, the plant-louse, the cagerta, etc.   I have said   A1'
that everything gives promise of great increase here because our
(European) vegetables grow very well, parsnips, turnips, cabbages,
lettuces, etc.; and so do our herbs, basil, etc. Turning to fruits,
there are excellent melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, pine-apples, etc.    (H
All types of cotton grow here, and the same can be said of sugar-cano.
If some imported plants have not grown it was the result of careless
handling.
Certain fanciful dreams about the country have been repeated,
dreams concerning pearls, mineral gold and carbuncles(l) But we caaIl
only be sure about the presence of iron, saltpetre and loadstone. Aj (l
Portuguese captain found a pearl here, but only one. Anyone who
disagrees with us can entertain his fancies, that is his right. But
our duty is to tell the truth about what we have seen, so that those
who are eager to obtain knowledge may feed their minds upon it, a fi
and proper task for such worthies. I do not deny that those comrnojit-
ies that a certain person likes to spread stories about naY exist II
Butjin a place like thiswhere greed reigns,surely they could net hm    W
been hidden away so long.


(1)  Some say there is silver, but not in the Serra itself.    As for
pearls, the King of the Serra has supplied reliable ilfor~ationr
There are mines of bronze.                                       J


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