There were four motivations for the European exploration of the rest of the world. These were God, Glory, Gold and Goods. Initially the missionaries had a desire to spread the gospel to Africa and the rest of the world, however as explorers brought back information to their native countries, a new thought sprung up within their minds, could it be possible to access more goods from this new continent?
At that time, European resources were scarce and there was need more goods and free labour to sustain the industrial revolution. The need to explore the world for new resources to feed their ever growing industries was evident. Each nation started looking for new land, with explorers discovering new terrain and taking possession under the sponsoring nation. The discovery of new land was followed by aggressive colonisation (McCamy).
It was not long before many incidents brought forth destruction. There were various cultural, political, economical and social issues. It started with the settling of the Greeks and Romans in North Africa. In the fifteenth century, Portugal under King Henry the Navigator probed along the the West African coast. Mercantile considerations, including lucrative trafficking in enslaved persons soon thwarted Christian missionary spirit and scientific curiosity.
European dominance was marked by the scramble and partition of Africa which involved mapping of territories, establishing trading companies and signing treaties with African rulers to create colonies within their sphere of influence.
Goods such as timber was a motivating factor in the shipping industry as sailing ships acted as primary transportation vessels across waterways, transporting raw materials, goods and people. Also the need for finding abundant timber for constructing houses was a critical need for all European nations.
The search for precious stones such as diamond was no exception, various explorers set up shop in East and West Africa. They found a lot of cause for further settlement and oppression of the African rulers as they struck huge deposits of the minerals which they desired.
The possibility of farming without limit on land was irresistible. All countries that went down to Africa started plantations. In their colonies, the British set up huge plantations from which raw materials would be gotten. These were harvested by the cheap labour available from Africans in those areas. Many cash crops like sisal, tea, coffee, cocoa, coconuts, the list is endless, were grown.
Another commodity that gave power to goods as a motivation was slavery. Many non Europeans were bought and sold to white people who could buy them. Middle men who could ship these men and women were not hard to find considering the financial benefits that hung around this trade. It did not matter how long they went hungry in ships as they were shipped across continents to Europe and America to sustain the economies there. Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and Italy had a chance of a lifetime and it would not go to waste.
Iron was another thing that fuelled the explorations that followed. The shift of focus from missionary work to goods happened so fast that the original intention was almost forgotten. Railways, machinery, steel manufacturing brought in huge amounts in revenue.
These nations frowned when the time came for slave trade to end. They turned a blind eye to the need for independence when it was time to leave. Its no wonder South Africa got its independence so late into the Twentieth Century. Goods became like the only thing rather than one of the factors of motivation.
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