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Old December 4th, 2010, 11:59 PM
Historico Historico is offline
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To The Ends Of The Earth: An Essay On Pre-Columbian Contact by the Mali Empire

Hey guys, this was part of my 20 page thesis that I wrote for my Pre-Colonial African History Class, based on the historical narrative of the Legendary voyage of Mansa Abu Bakr II(Abubakari). What I studied was whether or not the Mali Empire during the early 14th Century, had the resources to even launch such an expedition? And what would a Mande Settlment look like if they had actually made it to the New World. I really enjoy'ed writing it, and might possibly flesh it out as a full-fledged Timeline during the break, but time will tell. But please feel free to comment, and give your feedback which always helps me get into writing groove

************

To The Ends of the Earth
An Analysis of the Historical Narrative of
Mansa Abu Bakr II of Mali and his lost voyage
Written By Austin Ross



But let’s say, for the sake of Academic discourse, that Abu Bakr II along with his two thousand boats full of gold, horses, victuals and subjects did reach the New World in 1312. To give an exact hypothetical location, let us choose the site of Recife in Brazil more commonly known by “it’s other name Purnanbuco, which we(Gaoussou Diawara) believe is an aberration of the Mande name for the rich gold fields that accounted for much of the wealth of the Mali Empire, Boure Bambouk (Baxter 2).” The natives the Malians would have encountered would have been the decentralized Tupi Indians. Much like the fate suffered by the Taino tribes of the West Indies, transmission of Old World Diseases such as smallpox, syphilis and others could produce upwards of an 80 to 90 percent death rate within a few decades. However, if contact was made soon enough, then we could have seen a full-scale agricultural transfer, as Author Pa Dutch, of 1310: The Year Mali Discovered America postulated that “the colonists through the Tupi would first become acquainted with New World crops, including corn, beans, peanuts, tobacco, cotton, and tropical fruits. Such agricultural commodities will allow the colony to become self-sustaining. Likewise, Old World livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and guinea fowl, are first introduced to the Tupi, as are cereal grains like rice, millet, and sorghum (Dutch 1).” Due to the harshness of the Equatorial current, it is highly unlikely that the Mande settlers would have been able to successfully land back in Mali and for the most part be isolated from any centralized state in the New World. One of the biggest effects of such a transfusion between the Mande and South American tribes…would be that of Horses and Iron.

Although expansion by the Mali Empire southward into the interior jungles of Africa was halted due to the effects of the tste fly on their prized horses. In the jungles of the Recife, the lack of a major Equine deterrent would enable for the Malians to quickly reestablish their powerful Calvary to establish Military dominance in the area. Without ever seeing an animal such as the horse before, most of the Native’s would not have had the knowledge against how to properly defend against such raids by Malian soldiers and would have been aptly defeated. In terms of the spread of ironworks in the New World and it’s potential effects are enormous as stronger weapons could have made the difference against the Conquistadores who would still arrive in the 16th century. However, Iron may not have been one of the commodities transferred to the natives at least upon initial contact with the natives as Malian blacksmiths were extremely guarded when it came to the working of Iron. So while the Mali Colony might have been more successful at fighting back the Dutch and Portuguese during the 1500’s, Civilizations such as the Tawantinsuya Empire (Inca) in the Andes, although some system of trade would have probably been established between the Mali by then, they still maybe at a serious disadvantage against the Spanish having to rest on weapons of bronze and not Mande Iron. The smelting of Iron, could have had enormous ecological consequences on the region of the Recife. By the time, the Europeans reach the Brazilian coast, the descendants of Abu Bakr II would have been smelting and smithing for the better part of two centuries. The fragile tropical rainforest ecosystem of Brazil would have been decimated due to the “large quantities of wood to make charcoal for fuel. The deforestation that resulted from extensive smelting and concentrated smithing opened up savannah woodland to their comrades on horseback (Goucher, LeGuin, and Walton 8).” So ironically, the Brazil our counterfactual Europeans would have encountered, would have looked remarkably similar to the ecotone of the Western Sudan.

In terms of government and social policy, One could assume that many of the core characteristics of the Mande peoples would stay the same. We can infer from our own sources regarding the Mali Empire, that the Mande would not have been aggressive proselytizers when it came to the spread of Islam, due to their own relaxed adherence to many of the major Islamic traditions. Most likely Abu Bakr II would have adopted a policy similar to his successor in Mali, when it came to the conversion of decentralized tribes. According to Ibn Battau, During his long reign, Mansa Musa sent one of his ambassadors to the gold mining Wangara people of the south to force them to convert to Islam. The ambassador replied back to Musa, “Your majesty, this is not the time to pursue the Wangara people of the south. They have refused to accept our faith. The miners of Wangara even threatened to stop producing gold if they were forced to become Muslims. It would not be wise to force them (McKissack 66).” Most likely a system would have developed not too different from the one that was established in Mali, with the descendants of the Kieta Dynasty and the original twelve Mande tribes as the established elite, while most of the conquered native peoples such as the Tupi would be used as a source of Labor for building the colony. Most likely, due to a shortage of Mande woman brought over on Abu Bakr’s voyage, intermarriage between the Mande clans and South American tribes would have been a necessity to allow the colony to prosper. Arabic would have been the official written language, but it is plausible that some type of hybrid Mande-Tupi vernacular system could potentially develop in the ensuing decades after 1312. Islam, may very well become even more marginalized in the Recife than in the Western Sudan, or quite possibly “an outcome of this tradition, which outlived the processes of conversion and intermarriage was the special status accorded to Muslim communities, first within the state capitals and later in their own(West African) settlements and towns (Saad 148).” Intercontinental trade would have been just as crucial for an Isolated Mande Colony as the Trans-Saharan trade of Gold and Salt was to Sundiata in establishing his empire.

As the colony expanded, most of the Mande settlements in the Recife would be based on Mali cities such as Jenne-Jeno, which supported “a population perhaps as large as 13,000 paced into a space enclosed by a 2 kilometer city wall, beyond which perhaps as many people lived with a distance of one kilometer, there must surely have been a development of Governmental institutions in order to organize common protection, maintain law and order, and regulate trade (Connah 136).” In terms of political structure, I’d figure that the Mande Colony would look remarkably similar to the maroon slave Republic of Palmares, which occupied approximately the same territory from 1600 to around 1695. According to Historian John Hope Franklin, “Palmares was a remarkable political and economic achievement for the fugitive (mostly Angolan) slaves of Brazil as even at it height the Republic boasted 20,000 inhabitants who traded with nearby towns and lived peaceably in a system of law based on the legal system of the Kingdom of Kongo, where most of its citizens hailed from (Smead 33).” Although Palmares was a thoroughly Christianized community, while our Hypothetical Malian Colony would have been more or less Islamic, Abu Bakr II may have found out that the best way to keep native tribes under his thumb in a strange and foreign territory, would be to cede some of that power to the natives in the form of a Republic. The Mariner Mansa could work to create “a Gbara, or Great Assembly, much like the one in Mali. Made up of village leaders and Islamicized Tupi chieftains, the Gbara could write a constitution such as a proposal based heavily on the ancient Malian system of law, the Kouroukan Fouga. The Colonial Constitution also takes into account those aboriginal Tupi customs and cultural rules which have penetrated the multiracial population of (Dutch 2)” the colony, setting the Mande descendants of the great voyage as the undisputed rulers of the South American Continent decades before the arrival of Columbus and the Europeans.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 02:05 AM
wolf_brother wolf_brother is offline
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Are you going to post the entire 20 pages? This is really interesting stuff.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 02:15 AM
SpazzReflex SpazzReflex is offline
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Muy Interesante

Nice.

F*kc you Zheng He, F*kc you Lief Ericson, and F8kc your mother, Chris Columbus!
Abu Bakr II has truly discovered America.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 02:33 AM
imperialaquila imperialaquila is offline
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Originally Posted by Historico View Post
Much like the fate suffered by the Taino tribes of the West Indies, transmission of Old World Diseases such as smallpox, syphilis and others could produce upwards of an 80 to 90 percent death rate within a few decades.
This is the only error I could see: syphilis comes from the Americas, not the Old World.

This is very interesting. Have you considered making a TL based on this?
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Old December 5th, 2010, 02:58 AM
Don Lardo Don Lardo is offline
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This is the only error I could see: syphilis comes from the Americas, not the Old World.

No. Syphilis was present in both hemispheres prior to the Columbian Exchange. We've data as from places as varied in place and time as from medieval texts, Dark Ages burials, and Classic Era Greek ossuaries which reveal syphilis was present in the Old World well before Columbus made his voyage.

The Old World and New World syphilis strains had each evolved to "live" with Old and New World populations respectively. When those two strains "met" however, the extremely virulent strain which could kill within days was the result. That strain then eventually evolved from the kill-in-days version of the early 1500s to the kill-in-decades we are more familiar with today.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 03:17 AM
SpazzReflex SpazzReflex is offline
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Originally Posted by Don Lardo View Post
No. Syphilis was present in both hemispheres prior to the Columbian Exchange. We've data as from places as varied in place and time as from medieval texts, Dark Ages burials, and Classic Era Greek ossuaries which reveal syphilis was present in the Old World well before Columbus made his voyage.

The Old World and New World syphilis strains had each evolved to "live" with Old and New World populations respectively. When those two strains "met" however, the extremely virulent strain which could kill within days was the result. That strain then eventually evolved from the kill-in-days version of the early 1500s to the kill-in-decades we are more familiar with today.
I'm pretty sure Yaws and other Syphilis relatives originated in the Americas. Syphilis was new amongst the Native Populations, in fact it was still a primarily skin disease when it went to Europe. It did infact originate in the Americas, but Syphilis as the STD we know it as evolved in the Old World.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 03:39 AM
Don Lardo Don Lardo is offline
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Originally Posted by WienerBlut View Post
I'm pretty sure...

Take it up with the producers of Nova and the editors of Scientific American and Nature.

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... but Syphilis as the STD we know it as evolved in the Old World.
The syphilis we know is nothing like the fast killing syphilis that chased a French army back across the Alps during the start of the 16th Century. Like all life, syphilis evolves and it makes good evolutionary "sense" not to kill your host too rapidly.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 04:57 AM
SpazzReflex SpazzReflex is offline
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Originally Posted by Don Lardo View Post
Take it up with the producers of Nova and the editors of Scientific American and Nature.



The syphilis we know is nothing like the fast killing syphilis that chased a French army back across the Alps during the start of the 16th Century. Like all life, syphilis evolves and it makes good evolutionary "sense" not to kill your host too rapidly.
The Theories about it's origins are still that. Theories.
This standoff in ideological theories is not the point of this TL. Both of us should drop it.

Whichever it was, Yaws would more likely be the one to Cross the Atlantic in this situation. And that could make the transition to VD (), in a sense becoming another Syphilis, related, but different in slight ways.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 05:15 AM
Wolfpaw Wolfpaw is offline
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Nice.

F*kc you Zheng He, F*kc you Lief Ericson, and F8kc your mother, Chris Columbus!
Abu Bakr II has truly discovered America.
This reminded me of this scene from Hoffa where Jimmy and RFK go at it
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Old December 5th, 2010, 06:17 AM
Don Lardo Don Lardo is offline
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Originally Posted by WienerBlut View Post
The Theories about it's origins are still that. Theories.
You need to understand what scientists mean when they use the term "theory". It is not what you think it is.

Quote:
This standoff in ideological theories is not the point of this TL.
This isn't "ideological". They mapped the genome and have derived evolutionary information from that in the same manner they have from the human genome.

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Both of us should drop it.
And you should stop commenting on topics you know nothing about, such as medical topics as illustrated by your Vietnam Cough pandemic thread.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 06:47 PM
Dathi THorfinnsson Dathi THorfinnsson is online now
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Originally Posted by Don Lardo View Post
No. Syphilis was present in both hemispheres prior to the Columbian Exchange. We've data as from places as varied in place and time as from medieval texts, Dark Ages burials, and Classic Era Greek ossuaries which reveal syphilis was present in the Old World well before Columbus made his voyage.

The Old World and New World syphilis strains had each evolved to "live" with Old and New World populations respectively. When those two strains "met" however, the extremely virulent strain which could kill within days was the result. That strain then eventually evolved from the kill-in-days version of the early 1500s to the kill-in-decades we are more familiar with today.
compare
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/science/15syph.html
Columbus, it seems, made another discovery of something that he was not looking for.
Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image
Sheila Terry/Photo Researchers (left); National Library of Medicine/Photo Researchers
HISTORY A woodcut from the late 1490s, left, depicts a man infected with syphilis, and an engraving from 1689 shows people being treated for the disease.

Related

Web Link

On the Origin of the Treponematoses: A Phylogenetic Approach (PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases)




In a comprehensive genetic study, scientists have found what they say is the strongest evidence yet linking the first European explorers of the New World to the origin of sexually transmitted syphilis.
The research, they say, supports the hypothesis that returning explorers introduced organisms leading, in probably modified forms, to the first recorded syphilis epidemic, beginning in Europe in 1493.
The so-called Columbus hypothesis had previously rested on circumstantial evidence, mainly the timing of the epidemic. It was further noted that earlier traces of syphilis or related diseases had been few and inconclusive in Europe. Yet nonvenereal forms of the diseases were widespread in the American tropics.
Emphasis added. So, no, you can't really claime there was syphilis in Europe before Columbus.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 06:59 PM
wolf_brother wolf_brother is offline
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Can we cut the chatter about syphilis, or move it to a different thread. There are some of us that actually want to talk about the OP's post and possible TL
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Old December 5th, 2010, 07:16 PM
SpazzReflex SpazzReflex is offline
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Can we cut the chatter about syphilis, or move it to a different thread. There are some of us that actually want to talk about the OP's post and possible TL
This is True.

One Thing I wonder about this TL is if the Colonies will eventually go the Way of the European Power's Colonies.
In OTL, part of the reason Colonies broke away was a population boom in the Third World. You have a bunch of unhappy (and much more malaria and cholera resistant) Natives versus a colonial power in a far off land.

The Malinese will not face this problem as the Motherland is the one with the endemic diseases, and both will experience plagues as the colony and Motherland share them.

Also, When the Europeans go Crusading, the Black Malis will have an advantage, being more tolerant of the diseases in the Area.

I am very interested in this TL.
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Old December 5th, 2010, 07:49 PM
Yorel Yorel is offline
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I hope you'll do a timeline based on this. It would be interesting to see an African kingdom colonise the New World
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Old December 5th, 2010, 07:50 PM
Russian Sailor Russian Sailor is offline
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I hope you'll do a timeline based on this. It would be interesting to see an African kingdom colonise the New World

we need more of those tl's

African tl's are always wanted
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Old December 5th, 2010, 09:46 PM
Don Lardo Don Lardo is offline
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Originally Posted by Dathi THorfinnsson View Post
Emphasis added. So, no, you can't really claime there was syphilis in Europe before Columbus.

You've completely, and perhaps deliberately, misunderstood my post.

There were active strains of what can best be described as the parents of the disease we now recognize as syphilis in both the Old and New Worlds. It was when those strains met, that the syphilis we now know resulted.

In fact, the syphilis that resulted was a far more ferocious strain which killed in days and that strain eventually "settled down" into the strain we deal with now.

A similar mechanism occurred with the so-called Spanish Flu. A flu strain developed in the US near an army base in Kansas. When it was transmitted to AEF camps in France, that flu strain either met another strain or evolved thanks to different environmental stresses and the "Kansas" flu became the Spanish Flu of the worldwide pandemic.

That is all that I wrote when I originally wrote: "The Old World and New World syphilis strains had each evolved to "live" with Old and New World populations respectively. When those two strains "met" however, the extremely virulent strain which could kill within days was the result." If others have some deep ideological need to continue believing that "Indians Gave Us The Clap" that's their problem.

Like Wolfpaw, I'm tired of what is basically ideologically based quibbling over venereal diseases. This is a great POD involving Africa and the board has far too few African PODs, so lets hope Historico continues.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 06:20 AM
Admiral Matt Admiral Matt is offline
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Very cool concept. I'll have an eye out.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 02:25 PM
Devolved Devolved is offline
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Do you get a reverse Trans Atlantic slave trade? Native Americans being brought to Africa and sold in Timbuktu?
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Old December 6th, 2010, 08:10 PM
Blackfox5 Blackfox5 is offline
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As cool as the idea is, I don't realistically see this.

How exactly does Mali reach the Americas? It does not have the cultural and techonological maritime knowledge for prolonged ocean voyages and colonization. The distance between Brazil and West Africa is not great, but you still need some extensive maritime experience. The Europeans had centuries of maritime development and experience to build charts, identify trade winds, ocean hazards, etc. that allowed them to get to Africa and beyond, not to mention building larger and larger seaworthy vessels. Do the Malinese even have the compass at this time? What other naval technology do they have or lack?

What would justify the expense of colonization? The Portuguese were looking for spices in the East. The Spanish quickly got a hold of gold. In the north, the French looked for furs. Later, Europe used the tropical climes of the Caribbean islands to grow plantation crops not suited for Europe. True colonization for settlement didn't happen until centuries later. What economic resources near Recife would attract the Malinese in the 14th Century that they couldn't get elsewhere?

Also, Africa has a huge labor force problem. There is a reason why slavery was so prominent - mortality was high and people wanted more manpower. This created the large domestic slave market which the Europeans tapped into. I don't think the kings of Mali would want to export their labor force to another area when they need it here (yes, West Africans later exported slaves, but it was conquered captives not their own people, and they got lots of European goodies like guns in exchange).

The initial Mali colonists are going to have a fight on their hands. Natives will eventually go to war with them due to cultural misunderstandings and competition for resources. The Spanish were lucky that their initial foray was on islands. They kept the advantage of naval transport, and their isolation allowed the Spanish to limit their fights and their adversaries. Mainland opponents would be quite harder. The Spanish had several decades to build up their forts and bases in the Caribbean before moving on to Mexico and Peru. The Malinese won't have that advantage. It's quite possible that their initial settlements would be wiped out before they reached critical mass. Even if the natives aren't able to wipe out everyone initially, they will impose a big cost to the colony which would make it uneconomically and likely to be abandoned. Mali may have horses, but they won't have a lot. They may have some iron weapons, but not the armor to protect them. And certainly not gunpowder weapons.

Lastly, West Africans were still susceptible to diseases in the Americas. They were just a little bit less likely to die than Europeans. Malaria should still be an issue.

I don't think Mali or any other West African power has the capability to really support any New World colony. It's likely to be abandoned like the Norse in Greenland or English at Roanoke with survivors being incorporated into the native population.

But I have no problems with cool ideas being developed even if it's not plausible, so don't let me discourage you. Thought experiments can be fun. I just want to spell out some obstacles that might prevent this from happening in reality.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 09:43 PM
Hierophant Hierophant is offline
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Black fox the Mali DID send this expedition in OTL. The difference here is they make it to Brazil in one piece
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