The Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme was established by UNESCO in Brazil in 2003, following the approval of Law 10.639 which advocates the teaching of these subjects in the classrooms throughout Brazil.
Since then, the process of implementing the Law on Education of Racial-Ethnic Relations in the Brazilian educational system has been facing challenges, including the need for developing a culture in the school environment and a new pedagogical practice that recognizes the ethnic and racial differences stemmed from the Brazilian society development. In order to contribute to this process, the UNESCO’s Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme encompasses three strategic, complementary and fundamental hubs:
- Monitoring the implementation of the Law
- Production and dissemination of information on the history of Africa and of the African-Brazilian people
- Advising on public policy development
This action intends to identify critical issues, progress and challenges concerning the implementation of the Law, as well as to cooperate in the development of strategies for carrying out public policies accordingly, besides systematizing, producing and spreading knowledge on the history and culture of Africa and of the African-Brazilian people, by means of supporting the changes proposed by the legislation.
For UNESCO to support the implementation of the Law on Education of Racial-Ethnic Relations is a way to strengthen the African identity, memory, and culture in Brazil - the country with the largest population originating from the African diaspora.
Once the role of the African origins in the development of the Brazilian society is known and recognized, and exchanges between both are disseminated, important channels for respecting differences and fighting against various forms of discrimination will open, as well as for rescuing self-esteem and building the identity of the population. Together, these channels will contribute to the development of the country.
Therefore, working with these topics in schools and in school systems proposed by the national legislation ultimately leads students and society to value each person’s right to citizenship.
All this shows a remarkable convergence with the work of UNESCO, which operates throughout the world, stating that learning more about other civilizations and cultures allows understanding segregation and racial conflicts, as well as affirming human rights.
General History of Africa Collection in Portuguese
Published in eight volumes, the General History of Africa is also available in Portuguese.
Its complete edition is also available in Arabic, English, and French. Moreover, its abridged edition is available in English, French and in several other languages including Hausa, Peul, and Swahili. One of UNESCO's most important publishing projects in the last thirty years, the General History of Africa marks a major breakthrough in the recognition of Africa's cultural heritage for it allows the understanding of a historical development of the African people and its relationship with other civilizations from abroad, diachronic, and objective perspective obtained from the inside of the continent. The collection has been produced by more than 350 specialists of various areas under the coordination of the International Scientific Committee composed by 39 intellectuals, of which two-thirds were African.
The collection in Portuguese was published in 2010 as a partnership between the Ministry of Education (MEC), the University of São Carlos (UFSCar), and UNESCO in Brazil. It is only available for the free access in digital format (PDF):
Volume I: Metodologia e Pré-História da África
Volume II: África Antiga
Volume III: África do século VII ao XI
Volume IV: África do século XII ao XVI
Volume V: África do século XVI ao XVIII
Volume VI: África do século XIX à década de 1880
Volume VII: África sob dominação colonial, 1880-1935
Volume VIII: África desde 1935
New volumes of the General History of Africa
UNESCO launched the development of the ninth volume of the General History of Africa in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), from 20 to 22 May 2013. The meeting was attended by some fifty experts from Africa and its diasporas (Americas, Asia, Europe, Indian Ocean).
The preparation and publication of a ninth volume of the GHA follow the decision EX.CL/520 (XV) called upon the African Union Member States to assist in the drafting of the “Ninth volume of the GHA covering the recent history since the decolonization, the end of Apartheid and the place of Africa in the world."
In March 2019, the International Scientific Committee gathered in Belo Horizonte (Brazil) for planning and drafting the Volumes IX, X, and XI of the General History of Africa. The meeting was organized in partnership with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the Escola Superior Dom Helder Câmara (EDH). The objectives of the meeting were to:
- validate the introductions drafted by the Editors of volumes and Coordinators of Sections;
- review the manuscripts of the three new Volumes (Vol IX, Vol X & Vol XI as completed since the last meeting of the Scientific Committee in Xiamen, China in November 2017); and,
- discuss the strategy of the publishing, dissemination, and communication on the new volumes.
It was also an occasion for the Scientific Committee to showcase the importance and relevance of the work undertaken by UNESCO and, in particular, to present the main conceptual innovations developed in the framework of this undertaking. To that end, a specific session was devoted to exchanges between the Committee members and Brazilian scholars, students but also the public at large, around issues of great interest for Brazilian people such as the concept of Global Africa.
Pedagogical Materials based on African History and Culture
UNESCO in Brazil in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Federal University of São Carlos has prepared the production of instructional materials in Portuguese for teachers and students:
Síntese da coleção História Geral da África
A summary of the General History of Africa Collection in two volumes. Free access to digital format:
Books on the African and African-Brazilian history and culture for basic education teachers:
- Early Childhood Education (only in digital format)