Ask Mr Brain . . . all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2000, 12:00am

Who are Aborigines?

They are members of the indigenous race who live in Australia. They live in certain stretches of territory in groups, sometimes referred to by white people as 'tribes'. There were perhaps as many as 500 such territorially anchored groups.

The history of Australia shows that the continent has been inhabited for at least 40,000 years.

The Aborigines probably arrived either by way of the now-submerged bridge of land or where land connections were absent, by rafts and canoes.

It is not known whether there was a single wave or multiple waves of migration into Australia. The theory that there were two migrant groups, from southern China and from Indonesia, has been disputed on many grounds.

The Aborigines were not cultivators, so they lived by gathering food and hunting.

In the 1986 census, Aborigines numbered fewer than 228,000, less than two per cent of the total population in modern Australia. Their numbers have been destroyed by dispossession of their lands, poverty, cultural dislocation, disease and also by alcohol. Their jobless rate is more than six times the national average. The average wage for Aborigines is half the average national wage.

Who invented chocolate?

Chocolate comes from a tree called the Cacao tree, which grows mainly in West Africa. The fruit of the tree has lots of little beans inside. When harvested, the Cacao beans are scooped out and dried and used to make Cocoa, which is used to make Chocolate. But that is modern chocolate ! To find out where chocolate was first made (or invented), we need to go back almost 500 years, to a nation of people that no longer exists.

In the 16th century, near Mexico today, there lived a group of people called the Aztecs, who lived in the island-city of Tenochitlan. They were quite rich and clever (because it was them who first made Chocolate!). When the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes was sent by his King and Queen to claim 'new worlds' for Spain, he came across the Aztecs in about 1519, and was offered a chocolate-based drink.

He enjoyed it very much and asked the Aztecs how they made it, and was told that you started off with 'Cacahuaquchtl' Powder ('Cocoa' comes from this word), boiled this in water and added chilli, musk and honey. Cortes took this recipe back to Spain, where it later spread all over Europe, and later to the world.

You would think the Spanish would be grateful for this gift, but no, a while later, the Spanish decided to conquer the Aztecs and completely wiped out the Aztecs, not one survived.

The people died out. Our word 'chocolate' comes from their name for it too - 'tchocoatl'.