University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Africa Focus

Page View

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

Chapter 8: The renowned Island of Bussis, the character and organisation of its people, the richness of the land, and the royal state of its great king,   pp. 1-9

Page 7

conveyed it here if he had got it for that price. But since the owner
refused and asked for much more, he left it, buying instead a tomb or
(rather a) coffin, beautifully prepared, in which the savage could be
buried. This was obtained in Lisbon for 5,000 reis, the price including
many other goods, both fineries and trinkets. But the benefit of it all
came to French pirates and to the Falupo heathen. For the ship was
seized and despoiled of the better part of its cargo by these sea-robbers
in the Falupost bay, and the natives kept many goods which the French could
not carry off, as well as the ship and the persons of the captain, the
pilot and the others aboard, among whom was the King of Bussis' devoted
acquaintance. The latter lost his coffin which otherwise he might have
made good use of for his own burial, since among these savages his life
was so much at stake that he repeatingly endured torments, those true
torments earned by persons who out of self-interest are excessively,
attached to anyone who makes a show of loving them, solely out of the same
Apart from his vessel, the king has a number of very fine war canoes,
for defence against his Bijago enemies and to alarm them. In fact the
Bijagos dare not touch his island, because the king has promulgated a law
to the effect that any of his subjects who yield ground in battle will be
sold, and hence out of fear they fight with total determination. And the
careful operation of the system of look-outs, using bambalous, goes a long
way to ensuring that there are no battles on land. Moreover the king's
house has its own drummers who play all night, so that the same harmonious
sound celebrating the king's praises and proclaiming his goodness can, in
the event of an attack, bring to arms all those who sleep less soundly.
It is not possible for the land to be invaded from any direction without
it being immediately known, since it has people everywhere, living in their
villages. Now enough /f.32v/ has been said about this king of ours and
about the other points concerning this renowned island. As for the
idolatry practised there, it is the sort which is general among the other
Papel heathen.
To draw this chapter to a conclusion, let it end with the ceremonial
used in their burials, etc. First, the burials of leading persons, these
being celebrated with great pageantry.  In readiness for the day of life's
final farewell, the heathen puts aside the best things he has, his


Go up to Top of Page