The General History of Africa in Video: A New Adventure Towards a Better Understanding of the Continent

The project of the General History of Africa (GHA) launched by UNESCO in 1964 is going to enter into a new phase: this monumental work that involved more than 350 historians will soon be translated into video images to make it accessible to the general public. A series of six documentaries of about one hour each, will be produced by the famous BBC journalist and producer Zeinab Badawi, who is committed to reveal the world what she calls with humor "the best kept secret of UNESCO ".

However, the collection of 8 volumes of about 1,000 pages each, result of an exemplary international cooperation during more than 35 years, was not destined to remain on library shelves or in boxes. Considered as one of the most important contributions to the knowledge of the history of the continent, the GHA paradoxically remains largely unknown from teachers, students and the general public, even in Africa and the African Diasporas.

This scientific work that tells the story of Africa since the origins of mankind till the aftermath of independence not only helps to deconstruct, rigorously, racial prejudices about Africans and people of African descent inherited from the slave trade and slavery. It provides for the first time an African perspective on this history using authentic sources such as African oral traditions and relying also on non-Western sources, from India, Turkey, China as well as Ajami archives  written in Arabic alphabet and in African languages.

This audiovisual adventure on the GHA will start with a partnership established in January 2015 between UNESCO, Kush Productions and OCP (Moroccan phosphate Group). It  is to launch  the production of this series of 6 films that UNESCO, in collaboration with the Moroccan Permanent Delegation and OCP, held on February 10, 2015 at its headquarters a special event. Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Mostafa Terrab, CEO of OCP, Mr. Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Chairman of the Africa Group in UNESCO, Mrs. Zohour Alaoui Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Morocco to UNESCO and Mrs. Zeinab Badawi, producer of the series, took the floor in this event which brought together several Permanent Delegates to UNESCO and  project’s partners.

 

During the discussion, moderated by Mr. Alfredo Pérez Armiñán, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Culture, the participants recognized the crucial importance of this new initiative to support the efforts undertaken by UNESCO with the second phase of this project, which consists of  developing common educational contents for primary and secondary schools and elaborating a volume IX to update the previous collection and analyze the new challenges faced today by Africa and its diasporas. Considering the particular interest expressed Member States during the exchanges, we hope that the call made by the Director General to financially support this project will not remain unanswered. If these pedagogical contents are integrated into the curricula of all African schools, such as African Heads of State committed to do, Africa will be the first region in the world to build its regional integration on the basis of a shared common history.