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    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Africas natural protection from al Qaeda?

    Does Africa have a natural protection from al Qaeda?

    From a paper I wrote in Thursday, November 12, 1998.


    Autobiographical note of an explorer

    In 1991 I took a sabbatical, 6 weeks in the jungles of Belize in Central America. My Local County health services advised me what vaccinations I would need. My "International Certificates of Vaccination" form is approved by the 'World Health Organization' and provided by the 'US Department of Health and Human services', and is written in English and French (a tribute to French colonialism) I received vaccinations for Typhoid and Cholera and Tetanus. Also a vial of pills, anti-malaria medication (2x a / day, 2 weeks before and after exposure). As a former US military person I followed a strict regime of water safety and purification and sanitary procedures. Even with all my sanitary precautions I contracted dysentery. I was carrying the proper antibiotics, and other medications and personal powdered yogurt supply. My illness was short-lived but very disagreeable. I know I was exposed to cholera and typhoid and possibly malaria. I received insect bites on my right hand so sever that with the swelling you could not see my knuckles. I spent 6 weeks exploring the central interior of Belize (I believe these bites gave me some immunity from my states mosquitoes, as they do not itch or swell up any more). With out my precautions and vaccinations and medications it could have been a very dangerous trip. The explorers of the 1500's, 1600's, 1700,s and 1800's did not take the sanitary and water precautions I did and were at extreme risk. And increased their risks with out vaccinations.

    I was able to readily see the risk associated with past explorations on a personal level. The mortality rate from invisible sicknesses was very high and made exploration of Africa up until the mid-1800's extremely dangerous.



    Why has Africa been called "Deepest or and Darkest", I do not believe that phrase refers to the color of the natives, but to the 'darkest and deepest' secrets of the African interior. These secrets have been referred to as 'darkest' because of the mortality rates related to the attempted explorations of Africa's interior.

    In my study of North American and African geography, I discovered a mystery. Why did Europeans take slaves all the way to American to establish plantations and colonies, when they could have built colonies and plantations in Africa? The climate, soils and rainfall are very similar to that in Central and South America where the Europeans did colonize in the Americas.

    Why did colonization of America begin around 1400’s but did not start in Africa until the 1800's? Even the Romans and Greeks colonized most of the known world but only North Africa? Why wasn't the interior of Africa explored around the same time they explored America 1500's, why did they wait until the 1800's to explore Africa? Why was the coastline of Africa explored by the Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians but never colonized the interior?

    Was there a force protecting Africa? What could keep the world's foremost explorers and conquers out of the interior of Africa?

    Africa's climate and agricultural potential around West Africa and the Gold Coast was similar to the area where America's southern plantations developed .

    Many of the African states not only traded slaves but utilized them for their own use as well, so run-aways don't seem to be a problem. Many of the slaving ships would become raiders themselves along the coasts, so it doesn't seem that military force was lacking to subdue the natives.


    What could be the force that prevented the colonization of most of the interior of Africa for over a thousand years?

    I will start my investigation with the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians.

    I analyzed 441 original works by ancient authors, written in Greek, Latin, Chinese, and Persian.

    I searched these works for the key words, 'Africa and Disease'. The dates of these works ran from 700 BCE (Hesiod) to 1141 ACE (Omar Khayyam) .A1

    My examination of these works (441 works) showed 26 included remarks about disease

    and Africa, both. Specifically Aristophanes 1, Julius Caesar 1, Pultarch a priest of the

    Pythian Apollo at Chaeronia, Boeotia, (Greek) 17 in letters (46-119 ACE) to; Paulus, Agesilaus, Alexander, Anthony, Caesar, Marius, Cicero, Crassus, Dion, Fabius, Flamininus, Lycurgus, Brutus, Nicias, Otho, Pompey, Pyrrhus, also Tacitus (Latin) in 6 of his history books (56-129 ACE), and Sa'di (Persian) (1213-1291 ACE).

    Which would seem to indicate disease was associated with Africa as early as 46-129 ACE. See A4 for review Pultarch's relevant passages.

    I have reviewed "Pliny the Elder" (23-79 AD) works of 'Natural History' book V, The Continent of Africa.

    Africa, to him seemed to consist of Libya; I read "Africa and the two Mauretanias", "Mount Atlas","The Exploration of Africa" and "The Interior of Africa". While he makes no mention of diseases he does write about the 'Blemmyee people', with out heads and mouth and eyes attached to their chests and the Goat-Pans and Satyrs, so his lack of mention of diseases may not be significant in view of his other observations.

    Herodotus (4.42) reported Pharaoh Necho II (c. 615-595 BC) ordered Phoenicians to sail around Africa.The task took three years, and they reported they had the sun on the right, possible proof they may have rowed and sailed around Africa.

    This would seem to indicate some agent at work in preventing colonization.

    During my investigation I have come across some interesting information regarding the how the exploration of Africa lead to the discovery of America. This data involves the trade winds, currents and the inability of sailing ships to sail against the wind on the return trip exploring the Western coast of Africa. Any sailor who sailed down the West Coast of Africa had problems, the wind and currents on the way down are favorable (fair) but on the way back both would be against them (foul). Even the ships with teams of rowers had problems, rowing for days in extreme heat, pulling against the winds and the currents. Could explorers have gotten back by making two long TACKS? From the Canaries to the Azores and then from the Azores home?

    The Portuguese shipwrights came up with the answer, a new ship and sails. Up to this time the standard sail was the square sail. It was good in fair winds but worked very poorly in foul winds. Square sails simply waited for fair winds to move. This new triangular sail was called the 'lateen'. And worked well tacking in foul winds. This new ship and sail were called the 'caravel', Columbus used these ships in his exploration of America as they were sure they would return them home. Using caravels the sailors were able to sail with the wind down the West Coast of Africa and against the wind going home.

    Columbus used the new ,’triangular' sails that allowed tacking almost against the wind. Which were used to explore and circumnavigate Africa .


    Would an examination of colonization dates reveal a pattern of possible 'protection', or reluctance to colonize Africa?

    Did the disease problems the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians experienced prevent them from colonizing Africa? Was disease Africa's invisible protector from colonization?


    (see end notes A2)

    African Diseases

    There are many accounts of African hot river deltas teeming with mosquitoes as the explorers moved up the rivers. The explorers did not know that the mosquitoes teemed with malaria and yellow fever. Dysentery and hyper endemic fevers waited for them. Wounds caused by small scratches or thorns became infected in the tropical heat, and damp bacteria infested dirt caused festering, did not heal and could lead to death.

    The Portuguese founded stations on the coasts of Africa explored parts of the Zambezi River in the 1500's. In 1569 a group on horseback set out in search of gold, all the horses died and all the men died of diseases and from hostile tribes.

    In 1805 Mungo Park a Scottish medical surgeon set out to discover the source of the Niger River with 38 soldiers, 4 carpenters, and 2 seamen, 44 Europeans total. Only 4 survived this exploration that covered 500 miles of the interior. Park himself had sever dysentery.

    In 1816 Captain James Tuckey, a RN, tried to explore the Congo River. In all 37% of his party died, The expedition was attacked by a sever intermittent fever and black vomit.

    In 1832 Major A. M'gregor investigated the delta of the Niger River with two ships the "Quorra and the Albrukah' in one month all the men were down with fever except one man. Only 5 of the of the 29 men on the 'Quorra' survived. On the 'Albrukah' 15 out of 19 died.

    In 1841 Captain H.D.Trotter explored the Niger for only 100 miles up river in 3 iron steamboats, 'Albert, Wilberforce and London'. They took 145 white Europeans 25 colored from Britain and 133 Africans from Sierra Leon. Two boats had to turn back with the sick, but after 9 weeks 130 of the original 145 white Europeans were sick and 50 died, 11 of the 25 colored from Britain were sick with fever but none of the 133 Africans from Sierra Leon were sick.

    The rate of sickness between white Europeans and natives from Africa remained a medical mystery. This gave rise to many theories and a scientific or at least medical basis for racism.


    We will be investigating 3 of the main African diseases, malaria, sleeping sickness and yellow fever.


    Tertian argue was the most common and dangerous of most African diseases, now known as malaria. Some forms of malaria (P.falciparum) can kill more quickly, and if the patient does not die the chronic infection causes the patient to be more

    susceptible to other diseases and lowers resistance. Malaria causes chronic anemia from the destruction of the patient's haemoglobin. In many cases of malaria, the spleen enlarges and

    ruptures or spontaneous hemorrhages causing the blood to clot and become infected which will cause death from toxemia. Some types of malaria were associated with the lethal blackwater fever found in West Africa. The bacterium causes a break down of hemoglobin and passes in the urine causing very dark urine.

    Purging, starvation and bleeding were the main methods of treating all fevers during some of the 1700's and 1800's, speeding up the deaths of the already anemic malaria victims.

    In 1820 two French chemists extracted the active alkaloid, quinine from cinchona bark. Quinine worked to cure malaria, but the cause and the reason at the time were unknown and quinine had some bad side effects, vomiting, headaches, rashes, vision and hearing problems. Quinine users often suffered from 'tinnitus' a ringing in the ears and were often deaf.

    Malaria is the major cause of infant and juvenile deaths in Africa today. These endemic epidemics of both chronic and acute natures may be some of the reasons Africa's colonization came so late in history's time line.

    Yellow Fever

    For many years malaria was confused with yellow fever, both have the mosquito as their vector. Yellow fever is much more acute than malaria, symptoms; high fever, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate and exhaustion.

    One attack provides immunity for life, while endemic, there develops mass immunity and therefore is less sever among native populations than in individuals that have never been exposed to it. Ships were extremely fearful of yellow jack as just one case could kill most of the crew.

    Sleeping sickness

    Trypanosoma is carried by a fly belonging to the species Glossinia, commonly known as the tsetse fly. This disease occurs wildly between latitudes 12 degrees N and 25 degrees south, roughly between the Gambia River and the Limpopo River.

    There are two kinds of sleeping sickness the Gambiense of the humid forest regions and the Rhodesiense of the dry Savannah' s. So all of Equatorial Africa and the Great Central Plateau sleeping sickness is endemic.

    Gambiense is the more chronic, while Rhodesiense is more acute. David Livingstone first described the tsetse fly in 1057 and that horses and cattle died from it's bite. He treated infected animals with arsenic with some success. In 1894 Sir David Bruce and discovered the parasite Trypanosoma brucei in the blood of all the infected horses, confirming Livingstons observations.

    Medical treatments up until the 1920's consisted of atoxyl or tartar emetic, both virtually useless. Travelers were advised to wear veils and protective clothing. In 1922 the German firm Bayer introduced an arsenic compound, tryparamide, which proved effective.

    For other modern day diseases see: (see End Notes A3)

    While we are sure some of these diseases did not originate in Africa some of them could be indigenous. Yellow fever for many years was confused with malaria. When a ship was quarantined in port because of an outbreak of yellow fever they would run up a yellow flag, Even today a ship flying a yellow flag is recognized internationally as under quarantine.

    Just a few of these diseases could wipe out a colony though hyper endemic epidemics or even hypo endemic epidemics would sap colonies strength.

    Genetically some of the native Africans would have some resistance to these diseases, from generational exposure, malaria for example.

    Sickle-cell anemia was discovered in 1904 by Dr. James Herrick of Chicago. He did not think his discovery important and did not even mention it in his 1949 autobiography. This disease for centuries had been and still is the most important genetic killer of blacks in Africa. That same year 1949 Linus Pauling termed the disease 'a molecular disease',

    Some patients' exhibit' sever pain in the back and limbs or abdomen. Joints swell and it damages the heart, bones, lungs, kidney and spleen. Resistance to other diseases and infections is lowered and many die young. Tribes in Africa have known of this for centuries and knew it ran in families. Each tribe or band had their own name for this disease.

    Normally this disease would disappear over the millennia because of the mortality. However it has persisted because it has it's advantages. Malaria and sickle cell anemia are genetic sisters, and co-exist in the same areas where malaria has been chronic. The sickle-cell ontology kills the malaria parasites. Over time a balance is effected between those killed by sickle cell and those saved from malaria.


    A national geographic history perspective may tend to move us away from wholeness, while a world geographic historic view connects us, may move us towards our sameness.

    I found my self studying the dates of colonization for both contents and I discovered approximate a 400 year gap between the start of colonization of America and Africa. This raised many questions in my imagination. Why sail 50,000 kilometers to America when West Africa was only half that distance, with the same climate, rainfall and soil. No need to transport slaves, they were already in West Africa.

    A full understanding of the demographics, economics, and social systems forces behind the slave plantations, is still lacking. Why create plantations several thousand miles away from your source of slave labor?

    Even today there is a high risk of disease contact for anyone visiting Africa. And is the probable cause 'diseases' for Europeans reluctance to colonize Africa earlier. High mortality rates would certainly dissuade colonizers.

    Could disease have prevented Africa from becoming a world power like the USA? Is disease still holding Africa’s economic development back, even today?


    1 "The Mariners' Museum" web sight http://www

    2 "Pliney the Elder" .html

    3 "Negro World" .htm

    4 "Hot Wired"

    5 "History & Geography" html

    6 "Classics:

    7 "Regional Geography of the United States and

    Canada" T. McKnight, 1992, Prentice Hall, NJ

    8 "Africa South of the Sahara" R. Stock, 1995, Guilford Press, NY and London

    9 Course notes, Geography 338 MSU (summer 1998) Instructor; Mr. Gichana Ganyarn

    10 "Cabo Verde" o.html

    11 "Explorers Time Line" /blackford.html

    End notes


    The authors include; Aeschines, Aeschylus, Aesop, Andocides, Antiphon, Apollodorus, Apollonius, Apuleius, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Augustus, Bacchylides, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Demades, Demosthenes, Dinarchus, Diodorus,Epictetus, Epicurus, Euclid, Euripides, Galen, Herodotus, Hesiod, Hippocrates, Hirtius, Homer, Horace, Hyperides, Iseeus, Isocrates, Josephus, Livy, Lucan, Lucretius, Lycurgus, Lysias, Ovid, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato,

    Plotinus, Plutarch, Porphyry, Quintus, Sophocles, Strabo,Tacitus, Thucydides, Virgil, Xenophon, Confucius, Lao - tzu, Sun Tzu, Ferdowsi, Omar Khayyam, and Sa'di.


    7TH CENTURY Phoenician's explore Africa's coastline.

    500 Hanno explores NW coast of Africa.

    860 Iceland discovered.

    982 Greenland discovered.

    1002 Leif Ericsson discovers America.

    1271 Marco Polo overland to China

    1300's Ibn Buttuta, travels over Africa.

    1432 Portuguese discover America.

    1441 Portuguese cruise West Africa, slave trade.

    1444 Tristae explores mouth of Gambia River.

    1470 Portuguese discover Africa's Gold coast and Congo.

    1482 Diego Cao begins exploration of S. African coast

    1487 Bartholomou Dias discovers Cape of Good Hope.

    1492 Columbus sails, finds America.

    1497 Vasco da Gama rounds Cape of God Hope and reaches India. Explores E. coast of Africa.

    * 1497 John Cabot finds "new found land", secures part of America for England.

    1541 Hernando de Soto reached Mississippi River.

    * 1543 Jacques Cartier enters St. Lawrence River and claims Great Lakes for France.

    * 1598 Spain starts colonization of SW America.

    * 1600's Sieur de La Salle discovered mouth of Mississippi River, Claimed Louisiana for King Louis XIV, French.

    * 1608 Samuel de Champlain explored New England area. And French found colony at Quebec.

    * 1609 Henery Hudson explores New York, and Hudson River and claims them for the Dutch.

    * 1615 Dutch start settlement on Manhattan Island.

    * 1619 The first African slaves in English Jamestown.

    * 1620 English Pilgrims settle at Plymouth.

    1678 Robert Cavelier de la Salle explores the Great

    * 1682 La Salle claims the Mississippi River and lands for France and establishes Fort St. Louis..

    * 1700's (mid) there were 500,000 slaves in America.

    1776 James Cook charted coast of N. America, Oregon and North to the straights.

    * 1790 American cities with pop. over 10,000, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, and Montreal. I could find no record of any colonized city near 10,000 in Africa during this time.

    1795 Mungo Park explored Africa, party decimated by disease, and discovers Niger River.

    1853 Heinrich Barth explored Niger River and Timbuktu and published detailed maps of Africa, showing navigable rivers for transportation and commerce.

    1856 Dr. Livingston is the first known European to cross Africa, he marks the beginning of the influx of explorers into Africa's interior.

    1857 Dr. Livingstone theory of sleeping sickness, trypanosomiasis, and tsetse fly bite connection discovered.

    1858 Sir Richard Burton and John Speke explored Somaliland and discovered Lake Victoria, indicating the desirability of Africa for economic reasons.

    A 1879 King Leopold of Belgium annexed 'The Congo Free State.

    A And the Germans claimed Togo, Cameroon, Tanganyika, and South West Africa (Namibia as protectorates).

    1880 90% of Africa was still ruled by Africans.

    A 1880 De Brazza made treaties with African chiefs leading to the protectorate of the French Congo.

    1880's Malaria, elephantiasis, yellow fever, all discovered to be spread by mosquitoes.

    A 1897 only uncolonized states in Africa were Ethiopia and Liberia.

    * = American colonization


    A = African colonization


    A3 Malaria


    Yellow fever



    Guinea Worm






    Ebola Virus





    Letters; I located the following passages;

    Caesar, "in Africa, Scipio having taken a Caesar's...he struggled with his diseases..." "Spain and all Africa, which he governed was said that an infectious occasioned...they shook off the disease, and..."

    Crassus, "together some ships, he passed into Africa, and joined with Metelius Pius...into a disease which turned into a dropsy, had aconite given to him...the poison working only upon the disease"

    Flamininus, "Hannibal in Africa...the first stage of the disease...and that he should be buried in Carthage"

    Lycurgus, his voyages into Africa...complication of diseases...infirm, or diseased; as if were not apparent that the children of a bad..."

    Marcus Brutus, about his expedition into Africa against...Africa to Cassius...distemper called bulimia. This disease that seizes both men and...her disease."

    Nicias, Carthaginians, and possess themselves of Africa,...when his disease was the sharpest upon him...of the command, because of his disease...diseases and ill diet, being allowed only one pint of barley every..."

    Otho, "incurable diseases also;...were lost in Africa..."

    In Tacitus's history books, book II he states "beyond Africa...were worn out with disease, or who shrank from the unhealthiness of the..."

    And in Book V, "settled on the nearest coast of Africa about the time when Saturn was...agree in stating that once a disease, which..."

    Julius Caesar wrote,"an army in Africa, and the surrender of his soldiers in Coreyra...up against the violence of the disease..."

    These excerpts seem to offer more insight into the problems involved in colonizing Africa.

    Arabs sent into central Africa by al Qaeda may have some problems also. It is unknown if al Qaeda's benefits packages include vaccination's.



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