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Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain - Culture - Nairaland

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Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain by samuk: 3:57pm On May 23
Late 16th century, Anonymous Portuguese sea captain: The situation in Benin

To understand the negro traffic, one must know that over all the African coast facing west there are various countries and provinces, such as Guinea, the coast of Malageta, the kingdom of Benin, the kingdom of Manicongo, six degrees form the equator and towards the south pole. In the hinterland there are many tribes and negro kings here and also communities which are partly Muslim and partly idolaters. These are constantly making war among themselves. The kings are worshiped by their subjects, who believe that they come form heaven, and speak of them always with great reverence, at a distance and on bended knees.
Great ceremony surrounds them, and many of these kings never allow themselves to be seen eating, so as not to destroy the belief of their subjects that they can live without food. They worship the sun, and believe that spirits are immortal, and that after death they go to the sun.
Re: Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain by samuk: 3:58pm On May 23
Among others, there is in the kingdom of Benin an ancient custom, observed to the present day, that when a king dies, the peole all assemble in a large field, in the centre of which is a very deep well, wider at the bottom than at the mouth. They cast the body of the dead king into this well, and all his friends and servants gather round, and those who are judged to have been most dear to and favoured by the king (this includes not a few, as all are anxious for the honour) voluntarily go down to keep him company. When they have done so, the people place a great stone over the mouth of the well, and remain by it day and night. On the second day, a few deputies remove the stone, and ask those below what they know, and if any of them have already gone to serve the king; and the reply is, No. On the third day, the same question is asked, and someone then replies that so-and-so, mentioning a name, has been the first to go, and so-and-so the second. It is considered highly praiseworthy to be the first, and he is spoken of with the greatest admiration by all the people, and considered happy and blessed. After four or five days all these unfortunate people die. When this is apparent to those above, since none reply to their questions, they inform their new king, who causes a great fire to be lit near the well, where numerous animals are roasted. These are given to the people to eat, and he with great ceremony is declared to be the true king, and takes the oath to govern well.
The negros of Guinea and Benin are very irregular in their eating, because they never eat at fixed hours and eat four or five times a day. Their drink is water or palm wine.
Re: Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain by samuk: 3:59pm On May 23
They have no hair, but only some tufts on their heads which do not grow. The rest of their bodies has no hair at all.
They live long, even to 100 years, always in good shape and except at certain times of the year, when they feel ill, as when they have fever. Then they have themselves bled and they get well, since blood is the major factor in their treatment.
In the interior there are some superstitious negros who worship the first thing they see in the day.
There grows on this coast a spice called malagueta, very much like Italian millet, but with a strong taste like pepper. Another species of very strong pepper grows there, twice as strong as that of Calcutta which we Portuguese are familiar with. That is because it has a seed that can be preserved when dry; we call it cauda pepper; it is much like the cúbebas in appearance, but its taste is so strong that one ounce of it has the same effect as a pound of ordinary pepper. Although its export from the coast is forbidden under the most severe penalties, it is smuggled out and sold in England at double the price of ordinary pepper. This prohibition stems from the fear of the King our Lord that this plant might displace the large quantity of pepper coming every year from Calcutta; so he decided to take some step to regulate the trade. There is another tree that produces long pods like those of beans, with some seeds inside, which have no taste, but when chewed they have a delicate taste like that of ginger. The negroes call it unias, and they use it as seasoning, together with the said pepper, when they eat fish, which they are so very fond of.
Likewise the king has forbidden making soap from ash and palm oil. That product is strong in making the hands white; it likewise makes linen cloth twice as white as ordinary soap.

AreaFada2
Ghostagain
gregyboy
UMUAZEE
Re: Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain by AreaFada2: 12:12am On May 24
samuk:
Among others, there is in the kingdom of Benin an ancient custom, observed to the present day, that when a king dies, the peole all assemble in a large field, in the centre of which is a very deep well, wider at the bottom than at the mouth. They cast the body of the dead king into this well, and all his friends and servants gather round, and those who are judged to have been most dear to and favoured by the king (this includes not a few, as all are anxious for the honour) voluntarily go down to keep him company. When they have done so, the people place a great stone over the mouth of the well, and remain by it day and night. On the second day, a few deputies remove the stone, and ask those below what they know, and if any of them have already gone to serve the king; and the reply is, No. On the third day, the same question is asked, and someone then replies that so-and-so, mentioning a name, has been the first to go, and so-and-so the second. It is considered highly praiseworthy to be the first, and he is spoken of with the greatest admiration by all the people, and considered happy and blessed. After four or five days all these unfortunate people die. When this is apparent to those above, since none reply to their questions, they inform their new king, who causes a great fire to be lit near the well, where numerous animals are roasted. These are given to the people to eat, and he with great ceremony is declared to be the true king, and takes the oath to govern well.
The negros of Guinea and Benin are very irregular in their eating, because they never eat at fixed hours and eat four or five times a day. Their drink is water or palm wine.

samuk, please tag people or they might miss these eyewitness accounts.

As for the burial rights, not sure when such stopped or if indeed this was in Benin proper.
Re: Late 16th Century Situation In Benin: Portuguese Captain by samuk: 4:23am On May 24
AreaFada2:


samuk, please tag people or they might miss these eyewitness accounts.

As for the burial rights, not sure when such stopped or if indeed this was in Benin proper.

Okay thanks.

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