Book 1, Chapter 2

Tembo Andumba murders her own offspring, and makes him into oil, the great cruelties of this woman are related.

Chapter II.

The son was received with love by his hoary father after having consumed and dissipated his own substance, and not with anger and wrath conceiving the dealings with his brother.[1] The innocent one appeared before this famished and wrathful harpy, she did not do as that other woman of Jerusalem, who driven by famine, had to assuage it on the fruit of her womb; with the flesh of her own child, start by speaking to him lovingly, and weeping for his destiny and misfortune, that she had to be the murderer of her own son, and had to assuage the hunger that persecuted her on his flesh, with a trembling hand, with tears in her eyes, with cobs of love arming her hand with a cutting knife with which she had to slaughter her son; all was hanging in balance for the poor mother, war was duplicated the love which she felt for her son, the very individual who requested his own, and his life menaced with extermination , she surrendered before the battle, giving up the field so as not to lose that which without it all is nothing, and out of necessity was forced to raise up the weapon which she carried, and struck the blow [16] on her tender child, and left him dead on the ground.  When she saw on the ground the fruit of her womb she said with tears in her eyes, ‘O hunger, why why do you persecute me?”  Is it possible, o my child, that this your flesh must be eaten by your unhappy mother?  Necessity prevailed of the individual armed herself with force, but not sufficiently to cut up that tender corpse, but she cooked it whole, and divided this in the middle and ate it, bathed in the tears which cascaded from her eyes and such was the horrendus spectacle that it caused the siege of that part of the city to be raised so that similar horrors and frightful cases should not continue, even under the constraint of necessity.  But this cruel and wrathful harpy did not receive her son with a loving expression, nor take him back with love as at first nor have conversation with him, nor sweet words, but on the contrary[2] she showed that she had her heart full of anger and indignaton, her eyes troubled and inflamed her eyelids trembling and her lips having lost the appearance of color and she foamed at the mouth; this cruel harpy was entirely altered she did not take up the knife with a trembling hand like the woman of Jerusalem, nor did she arm her hand with this against that, nor like Paul lift the arm equipped with a sharp sword,[3] but armed from within and without by anger and disdain she stabbed the fruit of her womb in his belly, her only son, and placed him into a great mortar which in their language they call quino[4] and equipping her hand with a strong pestle of wood she began to unleash wild blows on those tender limbs.  That cruel tigress shot fire of wrath and indignation from her eyes, and foam from her mouth and was all dissolved in sweat from her barbarous labor.  She used the blood of her child to refresh her hands stained by the barbarous work which she did, oh! they who heard what she gave that innocent lamb would dissolve in tears and every heart be softened except that of an angry woman.  She struck him with one cruel weapon now on the head, now the chest also turned him feet uppermost, wishing to be avenged on them too, even for the ordinary movements he had made in her womb during the time he was enclosed there.  O insatiable hatred [17] o infernal fury what are you doing?  O anger and disdain of woman, o unheard of cruelty what have you come to?   Well might the child if he was old enough have turned to his inhuman mother and said what Aggripian said when her son ordered her death; seeing the cruel minister, his hand armed with a sharp sword, she turned to him and said “it is right, o cruel minister to transfix this my womb, and this be my death because no other end is suitable to she who has procreated such a dreadful monster.”  The child could have said to his wrathful mother “Tell me, o my begetter, anger does not arise if not from offenses because it is the appetite of revenge and revenge prosupposes that you have received an injury and how has your little offspring have offended you?  Troy was destroyed, but the cause was the rape of Helena.  Perhaps you fear me as another Athalia of Herod who will take away your power and dominion?  You are wrong for I am a tender child who does not know how to behave if not childish love as in him it forms a symbol of love and if you have received any injury make use of the beating which is the ordinary punishment for children and not the pestle with which you have armed your hand. Perhaps o my mother you have found disobedience in me as the Theban Duke found it in the army of his own son?  Certainly you have not experienced anger so do not seek to go beyond what’s necessary for a fair retaliation and measuring shame with shame do not make one disproportionate to the other and, so what do you want to do o my mother?  Your behavior is all hate and anger and disdain and mine is all affectionate love.  The angry man when he has been avenged calms his fury, but as yours is all insatiable hate, you do not have the means to stop your hate until you see all destroyed and ruined.  Anger is assuaged with benefits and there is no rage of wild beasts which one can not placate with them, well do you know I have not benefited you but it is enough that I am the fruit of your womb.  Anger does not take action if not against offense and what offense have done o my mother?  Anger at least respects relatives and am I not your child?  Anger does not seek to do evil to its neighbor but its own good and what good therefore is there for you in my death?  It is true that it remains sad until it is avenged but being avenged it is happy and content. It is better to be slaughtered than to slaughter because if he who is killed although dead, is not conquered, you can kill me but not conquer me, [18] if you are sad soon you will be happy disarm your hand o iniquitous progenitor and discharge the blow on this innocent fruit of your womb.  It is right and fitting that the burden and labor which I occasioned you when I was enclosed in your womb should by repaid with my death, because I can lie dead but not yet vanquished but you will remain vanquished even while living, for such and end is fitting to one who is born of such an iniquitous mother and it is also true o my contemporaries that anger is so reasonable that it tries only rarely or never does it against a multitude, but only against a single persons does my cruel mother, the furious hate which should sometimes be vented on a crowd is vented on a single person.[5] For this reason I have not gone against the custom of human nature, which is to be careful not to offend an angry person, rather have I always shown her a loving expression and for all these reasons it becomes me to try the weapons which are not of iron but very strong steel of a mother, who carried me nine months in her womb, gave birth to me with pain and brought me up with trouble; because at one time all this pleased you; if you were to slaughter me why give birth to me? Why not try to abort yourself?  Or why not kill me as soon as I was born?  For I should not now be aware of your cruelties or be the target of your barbarity.  O what pain it is dear companions, to suffer an injury from those from whom one hopes for aid and favors; Sennacharib also hoped for aid and favors from his sons and yet was killed by them with anger and contempt.  I was hoping for love and maternal affection but, I am experiencing general tribute of death.  S. Basilio says that anger is an offense against mother human nature which one can moderate and restrain with good judgement,[6] but if it takes command of our soul it transforms the person into a savage beast nor does it allow one to be lord of one’s self and if we give a place to anger in our heart by growing angry we are giving a place to the devil and what space it must have taken up in the heart of such an iniquitous mother, in giving birth to whom he robbed her of judgement and made himself absolute lord[7] both of her body and soul and turned her into a savage beast and yet the feeling of anger is given us by nature for our salvation and use because it makes us take up arms against our enemies and how could she make use of such an excellent feeling it while she is admired she is blind to the difference between gold and lead, which is an effect of the blindness of rage.  She did not differentiate [19] between what was hers and what was another person’s as not yours, because when she should have restrained and controlled herself seeing spread on the ground that human appearance, fruit of her womb, dead from the heavy blows which had rained down on him and this repentant harpy should have raised the head high and dissolved in crying and tears.  Not only not[8] moved to compassion as a mother ought but she did not want to speak to him while he was living, nor did she wish to have words with him when he was dead.  Tell me o cruel woman is he not perhaps your child? fruit of your womb, flesh of your flesh? bones of your bones? who you bore for nine months in your womb and gave birth to with pain and brought up with labor?  And how have you now become his murderers?  Where are the tree conditions, o Epitelli for which women are commonly praised that is mercy, modesty, and devotion.  If you do not have mercy, at least be equipped with the second which is your common condition which makes women act heroically, and if it is common knowledge (friend-reader) that no angry person is honest, what then is this black Ethiopia, if not dishonest without modesty and mercy?  Crueller than tigers and more ferocious than lions, more angry than harpies.  Anger when one keeps it in the heart does not hurt nor offend anyone, but when it reveals itself it does harm to whoever one emcounters and this happened to this innocent child who experienced the anger of an inhuman and cruel woman.  The poisonous snakes while living in their caves do not hurt anyone, but the fury of them when they come out, woe to him who falls on them, so her anger kept secretly in the heart did no offense but when it came out and revelaed itself it harmed her whom it should have armed.  O unheard of cruelty o anger and wrath of women where do you reach?  O heart of diamond and murderer of your own child what are you doing?  Answer me o minister of Avernus are you not woman and a mother?  Have you no blood?  How is it you are not affected and if you are lord what are you working for and why do you not entrust this deed to another?  Because you know well that one cannot find anyone possessing such cruelty who is willing to excercise it.  Who will not be inflamed upon hearing of such barbarity?  It is quite difficult to believe by those who not knowlegable about of the people of this black Ethiopia, barbarous people and more cruel than the savage beasts of the bush and forests, we are dealing with the murder of children I speak to you women and…[9] [22] and rubbing herself [with the fat and blood of the dead baby][10] and her followers as with a preservative not only against her enemies and the vagaries of the weather but, as if to protect and fortify with it the limbs tired and weak from work and also to show that if she could do this to her own child O God what could her enemies expect from her and her followers if they fell into their hands?  Having made their precious ointment or liquor they put it into gourds[11] which for these Ethiopians serve as flasks, as saucers, as plates, as glasses to drink from and decanters to keep their liquors and drinks as glass bottles are used by the Florentines for keeping wine.  They carry this oil in war even today and call it Maggi ÿa Samba, that is holy oil.[12] After this inhuman bit of cruelty, she had brought to her the warlike instrument called Moququo,[13] a military instrument of the black people of this black Ethiopia with which she made repeated signals of war according to the black people’s custom and went with the same oil, pounded charcoal and the juice of various herbs representing on the body what was in the soul, that is an infernal fury, which dislodged things, uprooted trees, and all was consigned to a devaving fire which in a short time reduced all to pure ashes and to nothing, the ancient structure of their edifices. At the warlike sound her vassals all ran up and found everything consumed by the fire and their lady with an infernal aspect transformed into a horrible monster, having added that extraordinary ointment to her natural blackness.  They remained marveling and astonished by the change but shortly afterwards their doubts were dispelled because it was made clear that her name was no longer to be numbered among the names of women, nor did she want to be called as a woman but to have her name among soldiers as an ardent warrior, and rising to her feet she took a bow, arrow, and spear, common arms in Ethiopia in her hand and did warriors acts or war, her actions showing her to be a man, even though the individual was a black Ethiopian woman.  “I have killed my son and made oil from him to oil myself and my followers in order to have power against my enemies so that they can tell what we will do to those who defy our fury and also so that those who want to follow me will not [23] regret doing so; without preaching, as an example given in deeds is more effective than one in words.  In future, I want no definite dwelling place, in this way I will test your fidelity.  I will no longer be lady and captain of a squadron, but of a whole formation and of how many provinces, not to say kingdoms, shall I tread on and render them obedient with my cruelty, and subject to my command; their flesh will be our food and their blood our drink.  Our name will be Muzimbi, name of our first father and General Zimbo our founder, master, and guide.  We must imitate his precepts following his virtues and observe the punishment the rigor which he exercised which did not pardon nor give quarter to anyone.  He succeeded in conquering kingdoms and provinces and ran through this black Ethiopia with that fame which is to all we shall continue barbarity and cruelty and with this we will be feared and when the force of arms arrives, our guide will come in human actions with this will give this iron and fire and we will always acquire fame and glory to our name if you will therefore be faithful and do not delay the execution of our work.  They were not negligent in imitating their lady, as they had already wanted and sensed with their eyes and ears in what consisted the summit of barbarity and if they did not give cruel blows to their children in the quino, that is the mortar, there was no lack of them who had done so while the children were in their own wombs.  O cruel example, o iniquitious counsels of women.  How many are dead through following them, who if they returned to the world and received them, not only would not want those counsels, but not even their conversation.  O iniquitous and diabolical laws, when a little spark of fire is lit in a house if it is not put out, it burns and consumes everything.  This was a great spark which not only burned her own house, homeland and even kingdom and how many people there are in this black Ethiopia whom her evil example and diabolical laws have consumed and are still consuming.  O infernal monster why did you not finish your life before giving such an example of barbarity and cruelty?  Well did Aristotle[14] say that if a small error in the beginning is not amended [24] it grows great in the end it is already done and goes on the the detriment of this unhappy Ethiopia, and not less is the evil which this cruel harpy brought with her example and diabolical laws to this black Ethiopia, to which the new laws of Bracmana people, a people given to the Ambassador of the Emperor Aimini by whom this Empire was perverted and made tributary to the devil not only of consumable goods, but of immortal and eternal souls, so too are the monsters of this horrible land children of this infernal woman an enemy of human propagation.

It is commonly known (a reader) that there is no law, however easy whose long observance does not bear some trouble except me laws of the barbarous and inhuman Giagas, which bring people contentment and happiness because all is in favor of the horrible earth and belly, such are the barbarities of the followers of this infernal monster, which horrify the spectator even the bearer of them.  They surpass with it all human understanding, surpassing even the wild beasts of the Lybian and Arabian desert, they go beyond tigers and lions, exceed even the famished beasts of the woods, they satisfy their hunger with herbs and are content with them.  These [Giagas] are not content with the food and vine that the earth gives but they feed on the flesh of human individuals of their own species and many also slake their thirst with the blood of these.  These wise men of Athens wrote their laws on twelve tablets of ivory because they were stable and inviolable, but the inhuman legislator of the laws of the Giagas, Benign reader.  Calling this legislation is not, as I have said, because she was the first to teach barbarity and cruelty, but because it was she, after her death as of her father and that of Zimbo the first general, who reconstituted the inhuman life of the Giaga and gave them particular laws to keep and observe which their ancestors neither had nor observed.  For this reason I call her legislator, so she did not leave them written on tablets of ivory (though this is abundant in this black Ethiopia) but so that they be firm and stable she left them cut in tables of marble which are the hearts of the Giagas, cruel and inhuman people so that they should be inviolably observed.  Ivory surrenders to the fire, but marble, wherever it is, is always marble [25] the hearts of these are no less so the more they practice barbarities and the extreme of wrath the more marble-like they show themselves [to be] marble not surrendering themselves to the fire of fraternal love;  to put out fire requires water and to light it, oil, but the hearts of the Giaga in which anger and indignation always burn do not require water to put it out or oil to cause it to blaze up, only the sight of a human being is required, and this makes them powerful lions, cruel tigers, and wrathful harpies and also a thirsty hart.

[1].  The story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15: 11-32.

[2].  An illegible word occurs here, this is a possible reading.

[3].  On Paul’s defense of Christ at Gesthemene, John 18: 1-11.

[4].  Quino, Portuguese orthography for what might be kino in Kimbundu orthography, a large mortar used for pounding grain.  Cavazzi provides an excellent illustration of one in no. 23 (also a less detailed engraving in Istorica Descrizione, plate 30), used to illustrate this very scene.  Cadornega uses the same term to describe this incident, História 3: 222.

[5].  This translation, with all its irregularities, reflects an equally confused and disjointed original Italian.

[6].  Marginal note:  S. Basilio

[7].  The MS is illegible at this point, but “Sre.” is a possible reading which seems to fit the context here.

[8].  The MS reads, “non solo si mosse à compassione che come madre doveva…” which we have amended to read “non solo non si mosse à compassione che come madre doveva,” so as to preserve the apprarent sense of the passage.

[9].  The MS lacks one leaf here, pp. 20-21, the only lacuna in the text.  I have not been able to locate an equivalent elsewhere in the Araldi MSS.  It is possible to reconstruct the sense of the missing part by reference to Istorica Descrizione, Book 2, no. 6 which is much less prolix than this tortured section.  Tembo Andumba, after pounding her child up in the mortar made an ungent from the mass of blood and remains, which she distributed to her followers to give them strength and courage.

[10].  We have inserted this passage to make sense of the following, from our reconstruction of the probable text of the missing leaf.

[11].  The Italian has zachi, a word which we cannot find in dictionaries, but seems to mean gourds, as the context indicates.

[12].  In Cannecatim’s dictionary, “Oleo” is given as Máchi, p. 544, which according to his orthography would be pronounced as in Portuguese, and thus we can modernize Cavazzi’s orthography as maji.  Cavazzi gives the concord as ÿa, although Cannecatim gives “ria”, perhaps a dialect variation, for Cavazzi treats nouns of this class with the same concords elsewhere as well.  Cannecatim does not use Samba to mean “holy”, preferring  “cuaba” or “culunda” for terms such as “sancta cousa” and “sanctamente”, pp. 649-50.

The catechisms generally eschew giving a Kimbundu equivalent for the term “holy”, although it is reguarly found in the Portuguese text, such an adjective is ommitted in the Kimbundu version, for example in 1642 (Gentio I, 14) the Holy Spirit is simply Zambi Spiritu or God the Spirit, while in the Monteleone version (fol. 15) it is Subirietu Santu.

[13].  Moququo (modern orthography mukuko or perhaps mukwokwo) a double clapperless bell used throughout central Africa as a symbol of authority.  It is well illustrated in no. 7.  The text on the front side of this same page in the front matter, p.XXX indicates that Ginga took up the “moquoquo” (when she became a Jaga) and an addition to the text reads “o mubùbù e longa” (or mububu and longa), while the label in illustration no. 7 reads “Lunguà, military instrument of the Jagas”, all of which implies that the same instrument was called either mukuko, mububu, or longa.  In Book 2. p.  n.310 H is called “gange”= ngonge

[14]. Marginal note:  Arist.