New Teaching Tools for ‘The General History of Africa’ Project Launched at United Nations

10 July 2015

The United Nations Department of Public Information and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will organize a round table discussion on “The General History of Africa: Learning and Teaching about African Heritage” from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, 10 July, in Conference Room 3 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event is open to educators, students, the diplomatic community and others who have pre-registered. The event will also be streamed live via UN Webcast.

This round table is organized to raise awareness of the importance of teaching the history of Africa at all levels within the educational system to combat racial prejudices and stereotypes against people of African descent and highlight the importance of Africa in the history of humanity. The discussion will focus on how the General History of Africa project could be incorporated into national curriculums and, in doing so, contribute to the implementation of the action plan for the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Maher Nasser, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Department of Public Information, will introduce the event and welcome opening remarks by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. Delivering statements will be Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations; and Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union.

“Africa is the cradle of all humanity, and a better knowledge of the history of Africa is decisive to foster global citizenship in today’s world. The General History of Africa is a UNESCO flagship project, and there could be no more rewarding legacy than to bring this history into Africa’s schools, and across the globe,” said Ms. Bokova.

Experts closely linked to the project will discuss the challenges of the pedagogical use of the General History of Africa. The aim of the project is to contribute to the revamping of history teaching in African countries and the African Diaspora by elaborating common contents for use in primary and secondary schools, and developing teaching materials, which will include learning units on slavery and the slave trade. Member States of the African Union committed to integrate these contents into their national curriculum in order to promote the shared heritage of African people.

The presenters include Ali Moussa Iye, Ph.D, Chief, History and Memory for Dialogue Section, UNESCO; Jean Michel Mabeko-Tali, Ph.D, Professor of History, Howard University; Lily Mafela, Ph.D., Professor of History and History Education, University of Botswana; and Mamadou Diouf, Ph.D., Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and Director of the Institute for African Studies, Columbia University.

“Today’s event is part of a year-long educational effort of the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme to help ensure that future generations understand the causes, consequences, and lessons of the slave trade. The vital message we draw here today is that the history of the transatlantic slave trade should not be taught in isolation from the broader history of Africa,” said Mr. Nasser.

The first phase of this project began in 1964, when newly independent African States wished to "decolonize" the history of the continent, affirm Pan-African solidarity and achieve political and economic integration. Consequently, UNESCO launched the elaboration of General Histories of Africa, eight volumes of which have been published to date. This event will help to introduce Volume IX of the collection, which is under preparation and covers the social, political, historical, cultural and economic developments in Africa since 1990, as well as the history of the African Diaspora.

The Remember Slavery Programme was established by the General Assembly in 2007 to honour the memory of the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade and to raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice today with educational materials and activities. A central element in the Programme’s outreach is the newly constructed Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, The Ark of Return, designed by architect Rodney Leon.

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For media accreditation, please contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.

For additional information, please contact:

Lily Valtchanova, UNESCO New York Office, e-mail: l.valtchanova@unesco.org, tel.: +1 212 963 5985; or

Kimberly Mann, Chief, Education Outreach, Remember Slavery Programme, e-mail: mann@un.org, tel.: +1 212 963 6835.