Who discovered the Americas? Who was the first to voyage across the Atlantic?
Most would answer Christopher Columbus, but it could have possibly been Mansa Abu Bakr II, a Malian emperor who may have crossed the ocean to the Americas in the 14th century. If true, this makes it 200 years before Columbus!
Though Mansa Musa is more famous than his relative, Mansa Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr II, has an interesting story. The older brother (or uncle according to other sources) of Mansa Musa, Mansa Abu Bakr II, was the ruler of the Mali Empire during the 14th century when the Mali Empire had reached its pinnacle.
His life is not as well documented as Mansa Musa, and the only known written account about him is in the work of historian al-Umari. This account comes from Mansa Musa’s conversation with al-Umari, documenting his rise to power.
Mansa Musa explains that his brother, Abu Bakr believed that it was possible to reach the end of the Atlantic Ocean. He was obsessed with setting off and discovering what could be found across the ocean. He planned a massive expedition, equipped with 200 ships filled with provisions, water and gold, enough to last them for years. The expedition set off into the Atlantic Ocean.
Many years passed before only one ship returned. The captain of the ship explained to Mansa Abu Bakr that all the other ships were lost in a river with a powerful current.
Mansa Abu Bakr then got 2,000 ships ready, half the ships to carry men and the other half for provisions. This time Abu Bakr decided to head the expedition himself, and left Mansa Musa in charge, and embarked on his journey in the Atlantic Ocean.
This account is only found in the written tradition of al-Umari. However, if this is considered to be reliable, it opens the question of whether Mansa Abu Bakr reached the Americas. There are pieces of evidence which do suggest this. Names of places on old maps are said to have been named after Malians. There is also the argument that metal goods from West Africa were found in the Americas by Christopher Columbus. If this is true, this supports the argument that Mansa Abu Bakr may have very well crossed the Atlantic.
Though the story of Abu Bakr’s voyage has little evidence, and can not be completely verified, it certainly is a fantastic and extraordinary story.
When you use someone else’s work as part of your own work, you need to reference. But what exactly does referencing entail, why do we reference, when do we reference? And what about all the different styles you can possibly use?
What is Referencing?
Referencing is acknowledging the use of someone else’s work in your own work. Essentially, you are acknowledging the sources of information you have used in your work. Also, you are acknowledging that the information you have used, is not completely original and are giving credit to the original author.
Why do we Reference?
The main reason why we reference is to acknowledge and respect the use of intellectual property of others. With access to books and the internet, we can draw upon a myriad of ideas and research. However, it is important that we give the creator their due credit; and referencing allows us to do this.
The other reason we reference is because it shows that we have well and truly researched a subject . When you reference, you show that you have used others’ research and ideas to back up and support your assertions. By utilising references, you are showcasing your research skills in that subject area (and that’s why your teacher or marker will allocate specific marks for references!)
When do we Reference?
Now this is a tricky one, and can sometimes depend on the requirements of your task. However, the general consensus is that you need to reference any words, ideas or information taken from any source. These include books, journal articles, websites, newspapers, films, documentaries or brochures. You will also need to reference personal interviews and emails if you use them in your work. Any diagrams, illustrations or charts that you use must also be referenced. Depending on the specifications of your task, you may need to reference lecturers.
However, you do not need to reference your own observations or experiment results, your own experiences, thoughts and conclusions. This is because these things are original to you, and therefore do not need to be referenced. Common knowledge, that is, facts that can be found in numerous places do not need to referenced (eg. Canberra is the capital of Australia).
Again, it is important to verify the exact requirements of your task to ascertain whether certain pieces of information need to be referenced.
Intext citation is where you insert a reference in the body of a piece of writing. This alerts the reader to the source that has inspired or informed your writing. A full list of all the cited works is placed at the end of your work, which are referred to as a Reference List, or Works Cited.
Reference List? Works Cited? Or Bibliography?
This depends on what you present in your final list of citations.
Works Cited is generally an alphabetical list of all the sources you specifically cited in the text. All works that you have either directly quoted or paraphrased need to be included in this list.
A Reference List or References is the same thing, and should only contain all the sources specifically cited in the work.
A Bibliography on the other hand is where you list all the sources that you have consulted whilst composing your work. They include sources that may not have been referred to or cited in the text.
Your task would specify either which of these three lists are required, or will detail whether you only need to list sources cited, or all sources consulted. So make sure you read what is required of you in all your assignment or assessment tasks.
Now, this is where things start to get complicated. There are many referencing styles out there. The one you choose to use in your work depends on the specifications of your task (I knowww!). Broadly speaking the following referencing styles are the common ones:
APA (American Psychological Association)
Each referencing style has its own nuances in how the intext citation and reference list are compiled. Some the styles utilise what is known as a note system for intext citation using footnotes or endnotes, whilst others utilise the parenthetical systems, writing the intext citation in parenthesis.
In future posts, we will examine how to reference using each of the above styles. If there is a style that you are interested in, and it hasn’t been listed above, let me know down below.
When you think about the richest person in the world of all time, people generally think of the billionaires of today who own large multinational corporations such as those found in the Forbes’ list of billionaires. After all, we live in an era of great wealth and prosperity (even if it isn’t distributed evenly). But, according to historians, the richest person to have ever lived could well have been Mansa Musa.
Mansa Musa, a devout Muslim, was the 14th Century Mali ruler whose true wealth is indescribable, as it would nigh on impossible to fathom. He was born in 1280 CE into the family of the rulers of the Mali Empire. He became the leader of the Mali Empire when his brother, Mansa Abu Bakr II abdicated. Mansa Musa inherited a wealthy kingdom. However, it was under his rule that the empire grew to its zenith and was at its wealthiest.
At its height, the empire covered parts of what are now Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritanian, and Senegal, and stretched over 3,000 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Under his rule, the Mali Empire annexed 24 cities, including the famous city of Timbuktu.
His wealth came from the vast resources his kingdom held such as gold and salt. In fact, according to the British Museum, almost half of the Old World’s gold was in the Mali empire during Mansa Musa’s reign. And this all belonged to Mansa Musa .
Even though his kingdom was saturated with gold, it was not well known in the world. However, this changed, as Mansa Musa decided to go for Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, passing through Egypt. On a journey of over 6,000 kilometres, Mansa Musa took a caravan that was said to have been 60,000 people strong. It was reported that his caravan stretched as far as the eye could see.
It was on his route to Mecca, that Mansa Musa met the Sultan of Egypt in Cairo. He spent so much gold in purchases and donations in Cairo, that he decimated the entire economy. An estimate by SmartAsset.com says that Mansa Musa’s excessive donations of gold resulted in about $1.5 billion economic losses in the Middle East . It is reported by some that he did this initially to move the gold capital of the world from Cairo to Timbuktu. Others report that it was an honest mistake, and that Mansa Musa tried to rectify the situation by borrowing gold on his way back to Mali, to remove some gold from circulation. Whatever the case, Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage revealed his vast wealth.
It was also this journey that put his kingdom on the map – literally. In a Catalan Atlas from 1375, the kingdom of Mali is portrayed with Mansa Musa on a gold throne, holding a piece of gold. Mansa Musa also brought back artists and scholars, upon his return, helping to develop the Mali Empire. He had the famous Djinguereber Mosque built in Timbuktu with the help of an Andalusian architect and established a university, to attract students and scholars to Timbuktu. By attracting the best scholars in the Islamic World at that time, Mansa Musa made Mali the most important place for knowledge in Africa. Under Mansa Musa, the empire became urbanised, with the establishment of many schools and mosques.
Mansa Musa was succeeded by his son, Masa Maghan I, when he died in 1337. However, his legacy still lives on today with the Djinguereber Mosque and the university he established, the University of Sankoré, still standing today, testament to his wealth, his faith and dedication to education.
If you found this post interesting, please let me know down below. As always if you have any suggestions for posts, I’m all ears!
Introducing our new series “All About…” where we delve into various topics. Where better to start, then the thing that’s on everyone’s minds and on everyone’s tongues – viruses.
What is a virus?
Viruses are infectious particles, 100 times smaller than bacteria, which can only be observed using electron microscopes. Individual virus particles are known as virions and are about 20 – 250 nanometres in diameter.
Structure of Viruses (This is about to get sciency)
Viruses are acellular structure meaning that they do not have cellular structure; lacking cellular components such as organelles, ribosomes and the plasma membrane. Virions have an outer envelope made of protein and phospholipid membrane derived from the host cell. A virion consists of a nucleic acid core of either DNA or RNA creating the viral genome. Viruses may also contain additional proteins, such as enzymes.
Viruses are generally categorised based on the type of DNA or RNA they contain, that is double-stranded or single stranded; positive or negative. The Baltimore classification of viruses, is the most common, and has 7 classification groups based on this method. Viruses can be further distinguished by whether they are segmented; where the genome (the DNA or RNA) is separated into different segments, or non-segmented; where the genome is in one segment. Viruses may also have their genome in a circular structure.
Every virus has a capsid, which is an outer protein structure that forms a protective shell to protect the viral genome. Some viruses only contain capsids, and are known as non-enveloped and those that contain a capsid as well as an outer lipid membrane and are known as enveloped viruses.
Has a capsid and also contains an outer lipid membrane
More resistant to environmental factors (temperature, pH, disinfectants)
More susceptible to environmental factors
Can survive in water
Can be inactivated by 70% alcohol
Many viruses that cause intestinal infection are non-enveloped
Bacteriophage is a special type of virus that infects bacteria, and have a head, collar and tail, and appear to look like an insect.
Transmission of Viruses
Viruses can be transmitted in various ways including through a vector, such as a mosquito; via direct contact, as is the case in Ebola; blood-born, such as Hepatitis C; animal bites, as in the case of rabies and through droplets that enter the respiratory system, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Viruses come in many shapes and sizes, but these are consistent and distinct for each viral family. Even though viruses may be in the same family, they may have different transmission mode and disease progression.
Where do new viruses come from?
Viruses have been around for a very long time, and each virus infects certain species. We have been living with many of these viruses for a long time. The real panic occurs when a virus jumps a species, so to speak. This is called zoonotic infections. We are constantly exposed to potential new viral pathogens from other animals, especially when we come in close contact with them, particularly when they are stressed. However, successful emergences are rare, and include influenza, HIV, SARS and Ebola.
Why do you get sick?
Viruses can be seen as intracellular parasites as they must attach to a living cell, be taken inside, manufacture its proteins and copy its genome, and find a way to escape the cell so that the virus can infect other cells. Viruses can infect only certain species of hosts and only certain cells within that host. Viruses make you sick by disrupting normal cellular function and killing cells. The immune system responds often with fevers and other symptoms to combat the virus and eliminate it, and this is why this a common symptom in most viral infections.
Treating the Virus
A common myth is that antibiotics can be used to treat viruses, but this is not the case. Antibiotics can only treat bacteria, as they disrupt bacterial cellular process. However, as viruses depend on the host’s cellular processes, and do not have their own cellular processes, antibiotics can’t be used to treat viral infections, like they are used for bacterial infections.
Instead, anti-viral drugs are used to treat viral infections; however, they are very limited in their effectiveness. These drugs have had limited success in curing viral disease, but they have been used to reduce symptoms. Most anti-viral drugs work by inhibiting the action of certain proteins. But it is important these proteins are not present in healthy cells of the human, otherwise the drug will also kill normal healthy cells. In this way, viral growth is stopped without damaging the host.
However, the primary method of preventing viral diseases, is vaccination. They are intended to prevent severe viral infections by exposing the body’s immune system to the viruses; and therefore, the immune system builds immunity against the virus. Vaccinations is the process of introducing a weakened virus into the body, so that the body can eliminate the virus with greater efficiency and speed if it were to be reintroduced.
Examples of Viruses
Examples of viruses, include Ebola, measles, mumps, chickenpox, HIV, influenza, and coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS and the common cold.
If you’ve got a post request, as always I’m all ears, so shoot away (metaphorically speaking)!