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

Chapter 4: The domestic institutions of the heathen, their lifestyle and customs,   pp. 1-4

Page 2

the worst behaved and who the most ready to apply themselves to sensual
vice. They have no understanding of the need to punish such children.
r~7taher  y would deprive themselves than restrain their children, hence
these children are the most intractable and least disciplined. If the
children are to receive the Faith, God permitting, in many cases these
stems need to be uprooted from their natural base.    In idolatry they need
no lessons from their parents or superiors, because they make such good
progress in it (unconsciously) that instructors are not necessary. In
fact they are all wicked because of excessive indulgence, and because of
lack of sound'instruction and good upbringing. All of them are liars,
cheats and sly concealers of truth. This is the fruit of la vita dolce.
When they are children they wear a narrow length of white cotton cloth
over their private parts, and even when they grow up and wear breeches they
retain this piece of cloth.   The women dress decently, wearing cloths of
different kinds, some of which they have had woven (locally), and others
they have obtained from the Portuguese.
This is how families are ruled. Thei- b'asic subsistence comes from
the products of the land.   Sons anddaughters support themselves when they
have their own house. But since their resources are limited and they have
many children, and sometimes some of them are illegitimate, they suffer
great hardships.   Men accept as their children those born to their wives
after they have given them to other men, as I will explain later., Hence
at the end of March or April the poor children wander off through the
villages, leaving their fathers and other relatives who care.-nothing for
them, and seeking their mothers and brothers and sisters, with the result
that until they find their own home they do badly for dinners and suppers.
No-one here buys them clothes, they have only the black dress nature gave
them, which they tear when they climb palmtrees, clear the forest or do
other tasks.
Now let us discuss their lifestyle and customs.    Since they all lack
Christian moral principles, it is hardly surprising that they also lack
the. highest principles of human behaviour. However they do not lack
:-natural morality. When they get up, they greet God in their own fashion,
-:and they ask him for the good things of the temporal life, such as health.
But as regards their soul, they have so little concern for it that it is
-as if they had none.   When addressing kings they employ various courtesies,
-a as I shall shortly explain.  Among themselves they use the expression
< atuao, meaning "Bear up I " More important people they address
a /f.61v/
different way. They put their elbow on the ground, and they use the same
expression atuao, or else lonta, meaning "Your Majesty".     They
do this


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