5 Ways Africans Impacted the Age of Exploration

back to school. color pencils

Well its finally here…

The first day of school that is! At least for the Dunlap Homeschool Academy. We had a blast yesterday and are ready for more! Check out our Facebook page to see what we’re up to and then meet me back here!

This school year, we’ll be plunging into the Age of Exploration, the dates encompassing roughly 1400-1600. It was the time period in which Europeans began exploring the world.


As I’ve approached this huge chunk of time, I’ve found myself aware of the fact I’m raising three African American children who are not ignorant of the strength in legacy they’ve been given through our African heritage. So, I plan to continue bolstering that as they learn about their world and the contributions others have made in it as well as those made by folks who look like them.

My hope is that this blog post will give you some ideas for how to explore this exciting time for those who lived it with a mind towards still celebrating the contributions of people of color.

Here we go!

1.) Exploring the explorers

The year was 1527. Five Spanish ships were preparing to set sail to a new land, America. One brave sailor on board was named Esteban Dorantes. Born in Morocco, he was later captured and brought to Spain. His captor was also making this particular excursion. Through a series of dangerous events, Esteban soon became more than just a slave. He was essential to all his fellow travelers! Read more about his fascinating life in Five Brave Explorers by Wade Hudson.


2.) Bartolomeu Dias’ Whirlwind Trip to the Cape of Storms aka the Cape of Good Hope

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to sail at the time of the explorers, then you should ask Bartolomeu Dias. Portugal wanted in on this great Age of Discovery and entered the race to see the world through the likes of Bart Dias. You can hear more about his landmark voyage in this very cute child created and kid narrated animation here:

When you’re finished, head on over to Nat Geo Kids to learn some pretty amazing facts about South Africa in general. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for what was still a mystery to the rest of the world in the days of Bartolomeu Dias’ expedition.

3.) Africans in Europe?

Believe it or not, Africans integrated the Christian and European worlds quite early, before the 15th century in fact and dating back as early as Roman times. The African presence in Europe was such a normal occurrence, some Africans in Europe were even elevated to the status of nobel men and scholars!

Take the Duke of Florence for instance! Read more about his life on this highly informative blog post as it introduces us to some more of these influential Africans in Europe.


Too much info? Don’t tune out just yet, catch a shorter highlight of the life of Alessandro de Medici better known as the Duke of Florence here:

4.) Prince Henry’s West African Explorations

Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese prince, explorer and soldier was not necessarily known for his own personal travels. Rather, he literally put Portugal on the maps in terms of opening the door of exploration to the West African Coast.


Though not necessarily a friend of the people on the continent of Africa, his accomplishments are worth mentioning given what he contributed to the art of mapping and African exploration itself.

In fact, Portuguese explorers were the first to sail to The Gambia River. You can learn more about his exploits here.

If it weren’t for Prince Henry, who knows when Liberia would have been made known to the rest of the world?


And based on my earlier post about Liberia its a pretty cool country, so we have Prince Henry to thank for exposing its treasured existence to all of us!

5.) Long Live the Queen!

Queen Nzingha the mighty warrior queen of Matamba was not someone to mess with! She defended her people against the threat of Portuguese colonization in the late 1500s. Her people were forever indebted to her for her bravery, cunning wartime strategy and unyielding desire to see her people thrive in the face of adversity. If you don’t come away from her story inspired, I’m not sure what else to tell ya!

I know, this clip was too short! Didn’t it leave you wanting more? Never fear, you’ll get the full story about Queen Nzingha’s life through Desree Crooks’ beautifully illustrated book, Nzingha: The Great Warrior of Angola. 


I’ve got some bad news for y’all…that’s all I’ve got for now. But lucky for you, there is some good news! We’ll be studying this thrilling time in history all school year so check back in with us from time to time and see what else we’re uncovering.

Thanks for reading! And if you haven’t done so yet, go ahead and hit that “follow” button so you won’t miss our next adventure! See you then.










Published by Courtney B. Dunlap

Christ follower. Wife. Mother. Friend. Writer...and excited to grow! I believe there's a need for more down-to-earth online spaces in which moms like you and me and anyone else in-between can explore the in's and out's of homeschooling free from competition yet rich with encouragement. My hope is that all that you find here will provide just that!

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