Before the 1800s, Africa was seen by Europeans mainly as a source of gold, ivory, and slaves. Europe in the mid-1800s was in the midst of
an industrial boom.
Flush with power and confidence, the Europeans looked to Africa as a source for raw materials for their industries and a place to spread Christianity. Knowing very little about the interior of the continent, white European explorers plunged into the land they called the “dark continent.”
But, as an African statesman later said, “there was nothing to discover, we were here all the time.” European claims of being the first to complete a journey were often exaggerated or wrong. Muslim traders had traveled through most of Africa, and many European explorers accompanied slave caravans.
The English explorer David Livingstone claimed in 1856 to be the first person to cross the continent. But the feat had been performed 50 years earlier by two Arab-Portuguese slave traders, Pedro Baptista and Anastasio Jose. Most European explorers did not acknowledge their achievement.