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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 2: About the character of the heathen that live in this province, so various in name and language,   pp. 1-11


Page 10

They say that to give occasion for envy is to i:se
of safe passage.   They are generous among themselves, and like to
display their generosity, and hence they are poor, since they give
away their possessions to their in-laws, parents as well as brothers
and sisters, and to the white man.   (But) there are a few so mean ;
that they will not give the white man even a cup of water.   They do
not spit or cough up phlegm when very ill, and yet they have the
disgusting habit of eating lice, the dirtiest thing on the head.    Th'
normally let their nails grow until they could serve as spoons, and
sometimes they use them in order to convey poisons.   Thev place the
poison behind their nails and carry it around hidden there, and thel'-
let it fall into water or any other drinkc.(i)   They are extremely   I
gluttonous, and to achieve their end are like ants in an ant-heap.
They are fond of wine, to an extent which can hardly be exaggerated.
Only liquor can turn the son against his father, and brother agains t
brother. Liquor will finish off whatever is attempted in the Serra.
With four casks of wine, it could be conquered with the greatest ea
that is, if the people were not so fend of their homes. As for
Christianity, what limit could there be on its advance if we distrib-
uted wine?  They would rush to mass, to confessions, to catechism,
sermons, if they had a drink at each. Wine brings visitors to you,
it makes you known, it makes you somebody. If you supply it, it is
your best friend.   And if you refuse to supply it, it is the worst
eneny you can have.   You may deny anything else to one of these pag
but if you deny wine, be on your guard, for you will have lost all.    l
Whereas with wine the most difficult tasks and the most arduous
undertakings can be completed, without it anything will go badly an
the atmosphere will be like a graveyard.   They have a-great desire
obtain iron objects.   They say that this metal. fache boga oni becauseL
it is so necessary for the maintenance of human life, for instance,
(by its employment) in agriculture.
They have no interest in our ornaments and products, but they
value remnants of our cloths, which they use as patches on their
shirts, sashes, and hats, patching in various colours, much as monk) a
do.  Nevertheless, they lack the excessive acquisitiveness of certaI
heathens in the East, since they only value what is truly valuable, I
(i) A form of revenge    he eats and crushes it between his teeth     I
in a day (?), etc.


 


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