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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 3: The public institutions of the heathen, including their laws and legal arrangements, and the deficiencies of these,   pp. 1-6


Page 6

6.
general trading. The inhabitants are all farmers. There are no
ploughs herWC all farming is done with hoes which have the blade
fitted through the handle. Machetes are made the same way, with the
blade fitting in the wooden handle. They also possess bill-hooks.
The men cut down the thick forest, but first the women cut the
smaller trees. Where they sow one crop they follow it with a
different one, funde (hungry rice), macarras, cotton, etc. Before
they can sow they have much to do, since the success of the crop
depends entirely on the thorough burning of the previous bush. If it
happens to rain at this season of the year, it is bad for vassals and
lesser kings : in due course they must have ready a tribute of rice
for their rulers, and also other commodities which they have undertaken
to deliver through agreements with all kinds of people. Among the
natives are weavers. Some of their looms are different from ours and
operate by hand (? rather than foot).  Their use is confined to making
repairs as need arises, and only those employ them who have least
commerce w th us.  Their work is worth a few pennies. Their blacksmiths
are very good.  This craft is a solemn one, since the nobles prize it
and some practice it themselves. They have tailors among them who work
in their own style. Their shoemakers make very ingenious bandoliers.
As for masons, they all know how to build their own houses. Some of
them are hunters, fishermen, and dyers. They have so many crafts that
in time of peace they lack little or nothing in the way of skills to
provide all those goods required for general subsistence, either by
the natives themselves or by foreigners. But the kings and foreign
governors are to blame for the land being impoverished, since they pride
themselves so much in being in charge of it, and since their sons,
brothers and relatives are so troublesome to the natives that for this
reason they neglect and abandon their crafts. If we manage to obtain a
little fish, wine or meat, we have to do it secretly by night - so
greatly do the inhabitants fear those greedy crowsl /f. 6&/
(c) Bogoto. For their crops and harvesting them, they have a society of
workmen, bogoto : all the officers direct the labour of many
workers by playing drums           in the construction of Jata's
tabanca.


 


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