Book 3, Chapter 1

[1]                                                                    Book iii Chapter i

Brief Summary of the birth, life and customs of the inhuman Giaga Cassange Caquigurij,[1] called Don Pasquale Lord of the Province of Gangella of this Kingdom of Mataba

Chapter 1

The common proverb which runs (dear reader) on everybody’s lips is that such as the Father is so must the son be, you have already heard the origin and beginnings of the Giaga people and the barbarous and inhuman rites, laws and customs they follow, and how their daughter Queen Ginga kept and observed them faithfully in imitation of their reformer Tembo Andumba, now stay to hear about their son called Cassange Caquigurrij.  I will tell of his birth, life and customs.

Cassange Caquigurrij was born in about the year of grace MDCVIII[2] in the Kingdom of Dongo, or that called Angola, among a pure population called Dambi aquitulla,[3] he was the son of a father who begat him in a pagan marriage, he was called Gongo[4] at birth, with the adjective of quitulla, a place-name, meaning Gongo quitulla; this word Gonga has various meanings among these Ethiopians, because written Gonga it means dish, ladle, fruit bowl, gourd and written Gunga it means bell, and written Gonghe it means a military musical instrument used among the black people of this western Ethiopia.[5] Our Cassange was called by the first of these, his Father performed rural duties, and he was destined to look after unclean animals, which function he fulfilled as his tender years permitted, and ate sea-onions, a food common to them, and thus learned to imitate their savage actions, which are not difficult to learn for these black people who in childish years do not cover themselves with anything except the skin of a goat or sheep before and one behind, hardly covering their pudenda, and some wear leaves and others are content with only the covering provided by mother nature, and go thus through light as well as darkness, without shame or blush, drawing glory from dirt and filth; [2] he was captured in war by Giaga Cassange Calunga Caquigurij[6] with the flocks he looked after, and the Giaga led him to his quilombo condemning him to death, which according to their barbarous custom had to be executed, and confirmed him in his work of herding not only the unclean animals, but also additional sheep and goats, and saw that the condemned individual feared to lose them; so young Gonga procured his safety in exchange for diligently fulfilling his office and so as not to be punished, and from fear, he made sure that his Lord and master was satisfied with his work and to serve him better spent the time when he was not herding the flocks in going where he knew people were being killed, and human beings sacrificed, to help skin, quarter and dispatch them, and wanted to try to eat them even when uncooked.  With increasing years he did not fail to increase in evil, and show it, and was taken from the care of the flocks and enrolled among the Giaga soldiers; it is not possible to describe the barbarous and inhuman acts this new soldier is said to have committed, it is enough to know that they were so many and of such a kind that he distinguished himself, and for them was not only made head of a troupe of assassins and thieves, but given the dignity and office of a Colambolo, meaning Sergeant General, an office which among the Giaga people is only given to belligerent, inhuman and cruel soldiers who always go in the vanguard and are the first to treat enemies barbarously.  He exercised this office to the great applause of the whole army.  This official has the power of sanction before his Lord even if he is the King, and ordinarily it is his responsibility to pass sentence and define the reason, and our Gonga achieved this without having studied law or knowing anything of Bartolo etc.  And his sentences were punctually and quickly executed and I could say much about them, but content myself with citing three from which the reader can guess what this master of barbarity and cruelty was like.  For the first example, I present you Cassange sitting in the public square in his tribunal as sentencing judge, and five people were presented to him, whose trial consisted of stroking their persons a great deal, and [3] because they were very fat they were deemed worthy to die; the iniquitous judge looked at them with threatening eyes, and to satisfy his appetite and desire to feed off their flesh, whose effects he wished to observe, he sentenced them to death without trial and the sentence was executed at once with such speed that their heads were cut off, and having seen the execution of the sentence awarded by the ruling official, he rose from his tribunal, and like a famished wolf shouldered one of these dead persons saying that by rights he should be allotted the fattest, and so went back to the kitchen helped by his pages and recommended that he should be prepared at once for the table, and before he was even cooked, ordered the table to be made ready, and with that savagery satisfied his barbarous wish:  do you admire, dear reader, this judge’s sentence, and this legal procedure?  The second case was no less barbarous than the first.  When Cain wished to kill his brother Abel, the holy scripture says that he invited him to go with him to a field and by hiding the deed he managed to avoid being seen by human beings, but could not avoid the divine eye which sees ass and examines hearts; he carried out his evil intention and dyed his hands with his brother’s blood; our Gonga did no less, and showed himself even more barbarous and cruel, because he avoided neither human nor divine eyes, and did in open country but without shame or fear in the public square attempted fratricidal homicide, without considering the innumerable multitude of people who were watching.  A blood brother of his appeared as a prisoner of war, and on seeing him he was inflamed with anger and hatred and with one blow took his life, imitating Cain.  When Cain was asked where his brother was he answered that he did not know, and was not his keeper: “Num custos fratris mei sum ego?”  but hearing from the lips of truth that his blood was rising from the earth to Heaven, and that God had been the spectator of everything, he repented of the error he had committed, confessed it, but was damned, because it was affirmed to be greater than the mercy of blessed God; now let us ask our Gonga about his brother?  He will not answer that he does not know but without shame or fear will show the interrogator with his hand, O how cruel and inhuman, and is he not his brother and of the same kind, and how could you become his murderer? [4]  He did not regard this as an evil deed, but gloried in it as a heroic action because such are the viscera of the barbarous and cruel Ginga people; but he did not stop at this one act, but approached the transgression of the law of nature, humanity and God; for there is a custom which has passed into law among the Giaga that those whom they take prisoner in war they adopt as sons, and they are treated as such by the man and the woman, or principal Concubine called among the Giaga Tembanzo[7] meaning Lady of the house, and as such our Gonga was loved by Calunga Cassange Caquinjurij, and his wife loved him like a mother and Prona, and as he thirsted like a hart for human blood, honour, command and being Lord, he saw his white-haired Father weighed down by infirmities and the weight of years and approaching the end common to every traveller, and on the other hand saw his wife still young in years and of good parentage, and in a position to impede and disturb his plans to reign, and thought of freeing himself from her and ensuring his future rule.  Among these black people, however great they are, it is a great ignominy and opprobrium to be a magician, and they are convinced magicians are condemned to the flames, because they hold that nobody can die except from witchcraft.  I say that what a good inquisition there would be the rigour of the law did not make exception for anyone, and perhaps a general judgement would be necessary, beginning with the Lords who govern, because usually nobody is called to an office or to public appointment unless he is experienced in several arts and especially those of witchcraft, but of these people nobody speaks, and the rigour of the law is only executed against some poor unfortunate, as happened to this woman who was accused by her son Gonga of being a witch, and was condemned by him as judge to be burned alive without appeal, nor anyone to plead her cause, and she was led to the appointed place and thrown in the fire in which she ended her life, in what way everyone can imagine, and the barbarian remained comforted and happy, and to hide the act and the cruelty he had committed as much as possible he ordered secrecy to be kept.  He at once had a house built for his old Father, and when it was finished brought him there to live in sign of love and filial duty, he being then weighed down not only with old age, mother of all indispositions, but also by an illness called [5] Bunbi[8] which means a fleshy or watery hernia bigger than one’s head, whose weight makes it impossible to walk, and oppressed by this and other indispositions he asked his son Gonga to let him see his dear wife, which married people ordinarily wish to do before dying especially those who live in married love although they are often prevented by their spiritual Father so that there should be no hindrance to the salvation of the soul, but as her life had already been taken she could not be seen, the father repeated his request, and being refused a second time, his love for his wife grew furious and he rose to his feet to go in search of her, and Gonga hurried to his father with signs of pretend compassion to keep him in bed, but lying on top of him twisted his neck, and as his life did not end with this he repeated the action pressing down on him with his knees at the top of the stomach with such force that he parted his body from his soul, which was taken by devils to Hell where it will suffer eternally for as long as God is God.  At once the false Gonga began to fill the air with cries, pretending to be inconsolable at the death of his loving Father.  He ran now in one direction and now in another, the officers of the army ran up to elect a successor according to their custom, before proclaiming the death of their Lord, and all turned their eyes to Gonga, but he fled them, swore and swore again that he did not want the burden of government, but they were false words because an hour seemed to him a thousand years; then he surrendered, accepted the charge of General, and changed his name to that of Cassange Caquigurrij name of his predecessor and Father,[9] it is no wonder that to rule and govern he killed his Father and Mother, as Athaliah for the same purpose killed as many as there were of Royal blood, and the inhuman Queen Ginga faithfully followed that example.  Absalom wished to kill his Father.  The Prince son of King Angolari wished also to kill his Father[10] with poison and the Son of the King of Congo did the same, first in the year 1636 and then in 1661.[11] But this in effect killed her.  The King of Congo to assure himself in [6] the Government caused a blood brother and an uncle of his to be killed in the year 1662.[12] In short the beasts of the woods know and revere their parents and have mercy and compassion on them, but the ambitious man does not forgive his Father, Mother and relations any more than he does strangers, O wretched people of this black interior Ethiopia as lacking in understanding as they are savage in their actions.  They say that the ambition has two colours, one of feigned virtue pretending to be far from honours, offices and dignities, the other is an ardent and insatiable desire with which it aspired to them:  this was exactly how this barbarous and inhuman person was, he showed himself far from wanting the burden of being General, but it was all a pretence because he had an insatiable thirst for it as his behaviour showed.

They write that ivy is a low and vile plant, and with all that wishes to rise and tower above the other plants as if it were their Sovereign.  Such is the ambitious man who wants to be placed before all others and to dominate them.  S. Bernard says that ambition is the mother of hypocrisy which wants to remain hidden; the ambitious man is cruel and without pity because to fulfil his designs he takes no thought of evil however great, and such was this barbarous and inhuman man who in order to rule and command took no notice of love for his brother, Father or Mother, in accordance with the inhuman Giaga laws.

A philosopher said that some men are worthy of vituperation, some worthy of hate, and some were wretches, and he affirmed those worthy of vituperation were those worthy of hate those who attain them with known ambition, and the wretches were those who go about deceived and swollen with vail worldly hopes, but I add, dear reader, that the fourth class who I say are worthy of vituperation, hate and abhorrence and wretches are those who die of thirst beside the water, freeze with cold near the fire, those who leave the right path and follow the wrong one, and being able to go towards the true light, leave it to go towards the dark as this new General Cassange did, who accepted the charge and had his Father and Lady buried with a sacrifice of 300 people to serve them in the next life according to the barbarous custom of the pagans, and having been baptised celebrated [7] the anniversary with 184 people (as you will hear in the proper place).[13] The new General therefore began to govern and to show himself zealous in the observance of the Giaga laws, rites, customs and ceremonies, and to show by example what he asserted in words he wished first gratify his predecessor with a sacrifice of many people as you will hear in the next Chapter.

[1]. Cassange Caquinguri = Kasanje ka Kinguri, also his name according to Cadornega.  Antonio da Serravezza, who baptized him, gave his name in 1658 as Cassange Caquinguri Macunde Canana = Kasanje ka Kinguri Makunde ka Nana, Archivio Provinciale dei Cappuccini, Toscana, Missioni Estere, “Raggualio dello fruto della Missione…” Latin MS of 1658, fol.     The name is signed in this way on the Latin treaty he made with Portugal in Brasio, Monumenta 12:

[2]. His date of birth may have been fixed by a calculation of his approximate age (40) at the time of the diplomatic mission of Salvador de Sa in 1648.

[3]. Dambi aquitilla = Ndambi a Kitula

[4]. Gongo – Ngongo

[5]. Cavazzi displays an interesting set of minimal pairs depending on the two vowels, Gonga/Gunga and Gonga/Gonge or Gunga/Gonge

[6]. Cassange Calunga Caquinguri = Kasanje Kalunga ka Kinguri, this seems to be the same person whom Cavazzi calls cassange Calunga Calunga Cajombe = Kasanje Kalunga Kalunga ka Yome, Book 1 note 130.  This band probably operated in the area of Ngonga’s home when he moved east with the Portuguese army in 1621, but before it was defected and went to Matambe after 1624, see Book 2, note 92 above).  He would have been between 13 and 16 years old at the time of his capture, exactly the age preferred for recruitment into Imbangala bands.

[7]. See Book 1, note 139.

[8]. Bumbi = mbumbi.  It is not clear what this disease is.

[9]. a) This change of name represents the institution of perpetual kinship, see Miller, Kings and Kinsmen, pp.

[10]. Cavazzi’s statement does not find confirmation in contemporary records, but may well have been true.  In Istorica Descrizione Book 2, no. 137, Cavazzi puts his date of death as 1660, but Leguzzano has accepted the 1664 date here based on Book 7, no. 137 and the fact that Giovanni Battista da Salisano, who was present at the king’s death did not arrive until 1662, Descricao, 2: 266 note 109.  See also Cadornega, Historia 2: 224 who places it in the same general time as Njinga’s death (ie. late in 1663).

[11].. In 1636 King Alvaro V lost his throne to the unrelated (Kinlaza) Alvaro VI after a battle.  Garcia II died in 1661 and was succeeded by his som Antonio I.  No other source blames Antonio for poisoning his father, though his fearsome reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness might well have spawned such rumors, and indeed it might even be true, see Thornton, Kingdom of Kongo, pp.

[12]. Thorton, Kingdom of Kongo, p.

[13]. See below, p. 21.