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A voyage to Benin


Quelle: A voyage to Benin beyond the countrey of Guinea made by Master James Welsh, who set foorth in the yeere 1588. in: Hakluyt's Voyages, Band VI., S. 456-458. Zitiert nach: Hodgkin, Thomas. 1960. Nigerian Per-spectives. An Historical Anthology. London, 116-117.

Benin: Food, Drink, and Friendship


The commodities that we carried in this voyage were cloth both linnen und wollen, yron worke of sundry sorts, Manillios or bracelets of copper, glasse beades, and corrall.
The commodities that we brought home were pepper and Elephants teeth, oyle of palme, cloth made of Cotton wooll very curiously woven, and cloth made of the barke of palme trees. Their money is pretie white shels, for golde and silver we saw none. They have also great store of cotton growing: their bread is a kind of roots, they call it Inamia [yam], and when it is well sodden I would leave our bread to eat of it, it is pleasant in eating, and light of digestion, the roote thereof is as bigge as a mans arme. Our men upon fish-dayes had rather eate the rootes with oyle and vineger, then to eate good stockfish. There are great store of palme trees, out of the which they gather great store of wine, which wine is white and very pleasant, and we should buy two gallons of it for 20 shels. They have good store of sope, and it smelleth like beaten violets. Also many pretie fine mats and baskets that they make, and spoones of Elephants teeth very curiously wrought with divers proportions of foules and beasts made upon them. There is upon the coast wonderfull great lightning and thunder, in so much as I never hard the like in no Countrey, for it would make the decke or hatches tremble under our feete, and before we were well acquainted with it, we were fearefull, but God be thanked we had no harme. The people are very gentle and loving, and they goe naked both men and women untill they be married, and then they goe covered from the middle downe to the knees. They would bring our men earthen pottes of the quantitie of two gallons, full of hony and hony combes for 100 shelles. They would also bring great store of Oranges and Plantans which is a fruit that groweth upon a tree, and is very like unto a Cucumber but very pleasant in eating. It hath pleased God of his merceifull goodnesse to give me the knowledge how to preserve fresh water with little cost, which did serve us sixe moneths at the sea, and when we came into Plimmouth it was much wondered at, of the principal men of the towne, who said that there was not sweeter water in any spring in Plimmouth. Thus doth God provide for his creatures, unto whom be praise now and for evermore, Amen.

                             James Welsh


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