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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 12: About the government of the heathen, the elevation of their king, and their war medicines,   pp. 1-5

Page 2

-   AL' It  CA
king takes his bow, and walks back and forward in front of all present,
for a sh                ra: drums and trumpets are sounded. There is
great festivity and cheering. But he orders them all to be silent.
Whe he is an important kinghe stands and addresses all his people, and
asks them if they want him as their leader. They reply that they do.
Then he says that he will act justly. When the ceremony is over,
banquets follow, with expressions of gratitude to the new king. The
participants make their farewells and return to their villages. I am
not speaking here of the procedure of succession when it is by right of
inheritance - though this is the normal system among the natives. As
regards the political system and other customary practices, these are
the same (for the Manes as for the natives), as already stated.
Now let us discuss their war-medicines, which are many and have
different uses, as we will see. The devil has taught these heathen
about certain powders and herbs, etc., which they call 'medicines.
For a king ta give these to his son is to give him the right (of      -
succession) to his lands.  With these monkey-tricks, the Manes have
deceived the natives for many long years. They make up these mixtures,
and afterwards place them in a cloth hanging from the hairs of an
elephant's tail, together with twenty-one little bells. If a rat or
another small animal or the wind makes one bell ring, however little,
they say that this is an indication of a forthcoming war:  hence, they
call these war-medicines. When an elephant or buffalo is killed, they
take the hide from its head, they cut a root of melila and the bark
from the root of poulan (cotton tree), and they add oil to allithese, and
roast them. This makes a powder, which they place in a small bag made of
camozel skin, and tis they carrykon heir wrist like a bracelet. Each
ingredient is a symbol of power and might: the elephant, the buffalo and
the cotton tree. They say that the elephant makes way for no-one: and
so they believe that it will be the same with them, because the powder is
made from elephant hide; since hides can defend elephants from death, it
will not fail to give the same benefit to whoever has them. Similarly,
the tall cotton trees cannot be cut down by matchets, (hence, its bark
protects man from matchet-strokes in war).
The devil has further revealed to them a herb which has such natural
power that where this is, there can be no hostilities or outbreak of war.
But those who carry this herb will conquer all their enemies by its power,
since they will be seized with fear. So that the Enemy can induce them
to believe further in this false medicine, he teaches them to pray as
they make it. They go into the forest and gather the herb, and with it
in their hand they say as follows: "0 Lord, you who created this herb


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