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Joao dos Santos



Dominican missionary in India and Africa, b. at Evora, Portugal; d. at Goa in 1622. His book "Ethiopia Oriental" is the best description of the Portuguese occupation of Africa at the end of the sixteenth century, when Portugal was at the zenith of her power there. His account of the manners and customs of the Bantu tribes at that date is most valuable; he was a keen observer, and generally a sober narrator of things that he saw. This work is now a Portuguese classic. On 13 August, 1586, four months after leaving Lisbon, dos Santos arrived in Mozambique. He was at once sent to Sofala, where he remained four years with Father Joao Madeira. Between them they baptized some 1694 natives and had built three chapels when they were ordered back to Mozambique. After a journey of great hardships they were forced to remain on the Zambesi River, dos Santos staying at Tete for eight months. From registers found there he discovered that the Dominicans had baptized about 20,000 natives before the year 1591 at Tete alone. From Mozambique he was sent to the small island of Querimba, where he remained for two years. The registers here gave the information that 16,000 natives had been baptized before the year 1593. Next he was appointed commissary of the Bulla da Cruzada at Sofala, where he stayed more than a year. His labors in Africa ended on 22 August, 1597, when he left Mozambique for India. With the exception of eleven years spent in Europe (1606-17) he lived the rest of his life in India.

Ethiopia Oriental (Lisbon, 1891); THEAL, The Portuguese in South Africa (Cape Town, 1896).

Sidney R. Welch.








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