According to the records, Australia was first discovered by Dutch explorers in the early 17th century. So how did 1,000-year-old copper coins from a former African sultanate end up on a remote Australian beach?
An Australian anthropologist, Ian McIntosh, is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, which began when five coins were found buried in sand by a soldier patrolling the Wessel Islands off the continent’s north coast in 1944, two years after Darwin was bombed by the Japanese.
Maurie Isenberg, who was manning a radar station on the uninhabited but strategically important islands, stored the coins in a tin, and on coming across them again in 1979, sent them to a museum.
They were identified as originating in the former sultanate of Kilwa, near present-day Tanzania, and dated to as far back as the 900s.
So far, so mysterious, for according to the history books the first outsider to set foot on Australian soil was a Dutchman, Willem Janszoon, who landed in present-day north Queensland in 1606 – more than 160 years before Captain James Cook arrived and claimed the continent for the British throne.
Dr McIntosh believes that the coins, which have apparently been gathering dust in the museum, could rewrite Australian history, indicating that the country was visited long before Europeans arrived.
Now a World Heritage ruin, Kilwa was once a flourishing trade port and in the 13th to 16th centuries had links to India. Its trade – in gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, Arabian stoneware, Persian ceramics and Chinese porcelain – made it one of the most influential towns in East Africa.
To those of us who are well familiar with African history, this comes as no surprise.
Yes this is news (this is my first time hearing about these coins) but considering how far and wide Africans travelled at the time Europeans were still in the backwaters, it is not strange that they (at least their coins) reached Australia.
What I detest is this insistence on “discovery”, the indigenous people of Australia have been there for a while, neither Africans or Europeans (or people from the Middle East who have played roles in East African history) “discovered” Australia.
A new United Nations report says AIDS-related deaths in Africa are falling while the number of Africans getting treatment for the AIDS virus is on the rise.
The report from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS says the number of people in Africa who receive anti-retroviral drugs increased from less than 1 million in 2005 to more than 7 million last year.
It says AIDS-related deaths fell by nearly a third during that same period, and that new HIV infections are also falling.
Many African countries have taken steps over the past decade to ensure that at least some of their HIV patients have access to treatment.
The report, released Tuesday, notes that Africa continues to be affected by HIV more than any other region in the world. It says the continent accounts for nearly 70 percent of people living with the virus worldwide.
It also notes that in 2011, there were still 1.8 million new HIV infections in Africa, and 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.