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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 7: The offerings of these heathen, and the society of Menas,   pp. 1-4

Page 3

When the period of instruction is over5and the Menas have
x,. I.
graduated  they have progressed so much that the master has confidence
in their observance of the rules, and he sends them away from the
infernal monastery. He leads them away himself, guiding them to the
open place in the village, with great festivities as they go along. At
the open place, a large crowd awaits the procession. Among the many
people present are the parents of the nuns, who attend in order to
identify their girls and take them home. Between the place of seclusion
and the open place, the girls process basfully and decently, their eyes
almost covered either by a round cap shaped like a coif, or in some cases
by a red hat; and in their hands they carry whisks, a little bigger than
our brushes because they have longer bristles and are not finished as   
neatly. And, to conclude, each girl leaves dressed according to her means.
Feasting goes on in the open place for three or four hours, and then the
girls arc handed over by the Superior to their parents. These poor people
weep with great joy when they take away their daughters because they
believe that they have been improved, when in fact they have been deprav.ed.
Hence one cannot detail the cursed rules of the society, because all of
them relate to sensuality and beastly behaviour. In this way the Mena is
brought to her parents' home and dwelling, in the midst of a great
hullabaloo, and then she is dressed up as finely as can be managed. The
Menas reassemble on certain days and repeat the rules to each other, in
order not to forget them.
(a) Before villages are founded, they make a medicine called toa and
place it on a post and near it some wild plants which in time
grow large. This ceremony is carried out by women when kings or
lords go to war or are in some danger: they sleep and live near
these places ( ? where the toa is), which become for this period
almost places of pilgrimage, and here they seek from the corofins
success or good health for their lords.


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