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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 13: The Biafar heathen,   pp. 1-6 ff.

Page 5

he was my regular companion on my missionary journeys, when we both
endured travails. These he bore with great joy, and his zeal and
singular modesty drew the attention of all when he assisted at mass,
by preparing the sacraments and carrying out all the other tasks of
a good sacristan, which he did to perfection. People said to me :
"Padre, there's nothing like this in the whole world i A. A devoted
priest said : "I have been across the East Indies and nowhere have I
seen a youth of such ability, such bearing and such perfect behaviour.
Your Reverence has the best service within your house you could wish
for, and what does the church lack when it has this Ignatius ? " This
is a striking instance of the character of these Biafares.
Their occupations and their way of life in peacetime, general and
individual, are those normal among the other heathen, that is, they
are farmers, fishermen, weavers and blacksmiths. They have no need
of tailors because they wear /f.43v/ little variety of dress, their
normal garments being goatskins, although their leading men wear tonics,
They are skilled in raising cattle, as well as goats, sheep and hens.
In certain localities they hold' fairs,(e) for instance, at Guinela and
Bruco and in the sea-ports where whites live. At these fairs the
products of the land are traded for bolls of cotton and strips of
cotton-cloth, the currency of these people; for cola; for black cloth
from Gambia, Goula and the Jalofos; and for various sorts of barafulas.
The country produces slaves,sad some of the best quality, as has been
statcd, and large numbers are provided for different destinations, even
though the Bijago have decimated the tribe through their continuous
assaults, which have put to fire and sword whole villages. Because of
these assaults the people live in the hinterland in their huts, and
remain in great fear of these savages.
(e)  A large fair, once a week throughout the kingdom, wherever
Portuguese live, apart from the normal fairs. The large
one is held in their villages.


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