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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 8: Circumcision and various other ceremonies of the heathen, and their wakes and funeral rites,   pp. 1-8 ff.

Page 2

Something may also be said here about their forms of penitence.     These
pagans have two kinds of oral confession.    One is the confession made by
/f.71/ as labour approaches, the other the confession made by all categories
of persons when on the point of death. Here the devil, in order to be more
welcome, has dared to introduce nothing other than a counterfeit of our
sacrament (of penitence)} The wretched women make their confession in a
form so wide and truthful that one is astonished. The devil has persuaded
them that a successful labour depends on their admitting their sins and
misdeeds. - So this they do, recounting in front of many witnesses what they
have done since their last confinement, not only referring to their
immoral acts but even naming their accomplices, in sum, confessing all the
sins they have to date committed. If after the confession the labour
proceeds successfully, they attribute it to the confession; but if it goes
badly, those standing around say that the woman has concealed (something).
And if after a successful labour the baby then falls sick, they attribute
this (also) to an incomplete confession. The devil makes these women so
fearful and so blind that they cannot keep silent (b) no matter what the
ill-deed has been, since there are so many occasions- when, if things go
badly, others will blame them. If the women are ashamed to confess by word
of mouth, they pick up pebbles and by counting these out indicate the number
of times they have misbehaved.
The confession made at the hour of death is different. A pagan falls
ill and his condition worsens.   He is not known to have committed any
obvious sins. But the poor wretch has committed some misdeeds secretly,
including some which are not known to anyone else. Feeling himself in the
agonies of death, he makes a voluntary confession, which they call bantine.
and in this he states what he has done.    Hence he believes that he dies
a clear conscience and in good standing.    This happened in the case of
a great magician, who on taking leave of this world openly admitted that
was he, after God, who was the cause of the serious illness of the King of
Serra da Leoa, whose native name %      Ferabure and his Christian name Philip.
This confession being taken at true infornatiOn and proof-pf his ill-doing,
.t therejwere immediate discussions is to the penalty wW-ch ought to be laid
e oakthq, d-ead mapIsf amilyX
(bj  Tfiis Is general throughout Ethiopia.
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