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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 lands peopled by the Mandingas and Sonequei,   pp. 1-12 ff.


Page 2

2. i
for illegal (?) cloth, different sorts of precious stones from the East
Indies, beads, wine and cola - the latter so much valued that throughout
Ethiopia it is reckoned a gift from heaven and Mande merchants carry it
to all parts of Barbary and, in powdered form, as far as Mecca; there
they are created superior bexerins and they return with the normal reward
of nominas (amulets), which they offer around through all these provinces.
/f.9/ The fame of the great trade in this river has served the Portuguese
captains ill, for at times pirates come here, on the special advice of
those heathen who know the coast well, and great losses and other damage
are suffered not only by the captains but even by His Majesty, in terms
of his revenues.
While nature has shown itself generous to the country, endowing it
with an abundance and variety of things, it was correspondingly mean with
the country's sons, giving all of them a character so base that they seem
more a product of error than of nature.  tSonst I call them (in the plural
because the people to whom the land belongs, the Souiequei, are today so
mixed up and coupled with the Mandingas that the land is called after the
latter.  To be specific, the Gambia River and that hinterland commonly
called the Mandingas', really belongs to the Sonequei, an idolatrous
heathen, while the Mandingas originate from Mande Mansa, as stated in the
second part of this Treatise, chapter [     J; a fact which confirms the
natural tendency of character to which the savage is always prone.  As the
blood of those who people this river is thus united, so also are their
characters and inclinations; or even worse, the Sonequei inheritance
dilutes that from the Mandingas. In the latter covetcuaross ameliorates
their natural character, for they practice the trade of merchant in
which it is so important to gain respect and be scrupulous, because on
this conduct depends the growth of profits. The nature of these people
is so depraved, so dishonest and so double-dealing that the saying of
the Prophet applies: 'Iniquitatem in corde et corde locuti sunt'
Z-                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-7
They have two hearts, one in the mouth and the other in the normal place.
They are malicious, greedy and treacherous. Though living in their own
country, they have today become lascarims. Whatever their evil spirit
tells them they put into effect totally, as far as is possible. It Is
very necessary to be on guard in their ports, and failure to do this has
often caused great disasters, when launches laden with goods have been
lost. The much prized joy of life itself has also been lost, as happened
to Diogo da Costa, from the Algarve, who was most cruelly killed by a
Jalofo jagara, a native of Maniagar, in the land of the Grand Borcalo, a
land also peopled by Mandingas of this union.


 


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