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Mota, A. Teixeira da (Avelino Teixeira); Hair, P. E. H. (Paul Edward Hedley) / Jesuit documents on the Guinea of Cape Verde and the Cape Verde Islands, 1585-1617: in English translation

The Jesuit mission to Western Guinea


was not difficult to do. But it made Alvares' report-writing in stickier
times more difficult, and helps to explain why his reports were given less
publicity.    Barreira's,  on the other hand, were soon available, in one
shape or another, in most of the readable languages of western Europe.
Apart from the haze of rose-tinted edification, the reports of both men,
even some of Barreira 's more confidential letters, are often vague on
factual details of the African background (but not on such business matters
as finances and the plans for constructing   a College).    Hence they are
somewhat disappointing to the critical historian, Sierra Leone being seen
some extent through a barely penetrable gauze. Nevertheless, given the
paucity of sources on the pre-literate sub-continent at this period of time,
the Jesuit sources are invaluable for giving historians a large part of such
understanding of the Sierra Leone district as it is now possible to gain.
In fairness, it needs to be added that, for a final judgement, account needs
to be taken of Alvares' description of Sierra Leone, still unpublished.
When it does appear - and I hope to make it available in a similar raw form
soon - it will be seen that the Jesuits were capable of providing a fair
modicum of factual information, and that the somewhat obscure Alvares is
more valuable as a source than the colleague who overshadowed him in his
Most of the Jesuit documents in this volume relate to Sierra Leone, but a
number relate instead to the Cape Verde Islands or to the Guine'-Bissau
region.   On  his way back    from Sierra Leone, Barreira visited the latter
region and also the coast of Senegal, and he briefly described these
visits.<3>   Finally,  there are several accounts of the whole coast
of the
Guinea of Cape Verde.
<1> Guy Thilmans and Nize Isabel de Moraes, la description de la c6te
Guinde du pare Baltasar Barreira (1606)', Bulletin de 1Institut
Fondanental d'Afrique Noire, s6r B,34,1972,1-50
<2> P.E.H.Hair, The abortive Portuguese settlement of Sierra Leone
1570-1625', in  [no ed. named],Vice-Almirante A.Teixeira da Mota in
nemtriam, Lisbon, 1987, 171-208
<3> B.Pinto-Bull and J.Boulegue, 'La mission de Baltasar Barreira a
et Portudal', Notes Africaines, 130, April 1971,44-46


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