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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 9: The state of the province before the conquest,   pp. 1-6

Page 2


It was a time of peace. Such wars as occurred were solely the
fault of those who dwelt there, and were on account of adulteries,
murders and witchcraft. The weapons of war were large spears with long
shafts, and fire-hardened pointed sticks. They had no knowledge of
archery or poisoned weapons. They used shields of buffalo hide. In
general, while this people lived in independence, they prized their
agriculture and commerce, although they never held markets. If the
Portuguese had commercial associations with them, so too had the pirates,
'ie    txudevil associations, since they took enormous plunder on this coast
from the ships which the trading-stations sent out laden with large
quantities of very rich goods.
So that it may be seen how things were, and how much wealth there
was in those times, more even than in the age of gold, I will now describe
the rich life of a captain called Joao Afonso, who had his home at
Mapanche, a very pleasant town located in Mabengoma or Casses. This man
lived in such prosperity, so well-provided with everything, that there
was little or nothing of prosperous life in Europe which he envied. How
different things are here todayl How strikingly has the former state of
happiness and sufficiency passed away! This man not only used to send
many ships to sea in the course of his business, putting his heart and
soul aboard them, for-heart and soul are to be found in the objects one
loves, as the saint said, but he also possessed much property on land,
including a large quantity Df gold stored in pots. Whereas I formerly
instanced him as an example of the richness of the land, what I am going
to say about him can be taken as a warning that one should scorn all
material things, one should neither yearn for them, nor possess them with
excessive passion , since they cannot preserve any man from total ruin.
Joao Afonso, at the height of his prosperity, but like the rich man in
the Gospel(d) who was raised up only to fall, because of his (false)
(c) "He that trusteth in his riches will fall" (Proverbs, 11,28)
(d)  The rich man has no name : "There was a certain rich man.. ."(Luke,
The poor man has a name, "Lazarus". The rich man without mercy:
hell; the rich man with mercy : the Kingdom of Heaven through charity;
Heaven, because from its influence lie receives the earth : without
form and void" (Genesis, 1,2).


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