Building peace in the minds of men and women

Meeting of the International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of Volume IX of the General History of Africa from 16 to 19 June at UNESCO Headquarters

The meeting of the International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of Volume IX of the General History of Africa (GHA) – taking place from 16 to 19 June at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France – aims to establish a roadmap and work plan for the identification of the volume's content.

Started in 1964 in response to calls by newly independent African countries, the project of the GHA, aimed at producing and promoting a history of Africa from the perspective of African themselves, now spans eight volumes. By providing an insight into the true history of the African peoples, the hundreds of specialists from various disciplines taking part in this project have brought to light African contributions to the general progress of humanity. From history to linguistics, from anthropology to natural sciences, this undertaking also wished to stray from the beaten path by incorporating oral traditions, and literary and artistic sources.

Volume IX of the GHA is yet another phase of the ongoing project. It was launched in November 2013 in Salvador, Brazil, where the International Scientific Committee met for the first time. Building on the recent history of the continent and its diasporas, it was decided that this new volume would transfer this scholarly academic history into learning content for primary- and secondary-school pupils, as well as teachers. The pedagogical use of the GHA, launched in 2009, raises new scientific, intellectual, political and cultural challenges to be taken into account in the drafting of the ninth volume.

The Committee has thus decided to structure this endeavor around three main objectives, which will then take the form of one book each:

  • updating the content of the volumes of the GHA in the light of recent developments in scientific research and political, socio-economic and ecological changes in Africa since the last volume in the series was published (1993);
  • mapping and analysing the various African diasporas, ancient and modern, and their various contributions to the construction of modern societies, and Africa’s emancipation and development;
  • identifying and analysing the new challenges facing Africa, including questions of African unity, pan-Africanism, regional integration, education and culture, youth, matters related to gender and gender equality, health and healthcare, cultural diversity, creativity, the arts, culture and development, intercultural dialogue in Africa, questions of peace and the environment, climate change, urbanization, scientific research and innovation, sustainable development, good governance, South-South cooperation, relations with the diaspora, and so forth.

Furthermore, the analysis of the concept of race and processes of racialization will enable an exploration of the construction of identities and self-identification processes in these various diasporas, and the symbolic and historical connections they maintain with Africa.

Most of all, the contributors to Volume IX wish to uphold and promote the dynamic concept of Global Africa. Slavery, the relationship between pan-Africanism and the diasporas, and the development of pan-Africanist thinking all need to be understood through the prism of diasporic experiences – from the initial expansion of humans from the African continent to the successive diasporas over time to the present day.

As such, the second meeting of the Committee will be a decisive stage that will enable a comprehensive identification of the content of Volume IX primarily by:

  • validating the proposals made by the coordinators of each book;
  • determining the detailed plan for Volume IX as a whole;
  • selecting the contributors to Volume IX;
  • deciding upon an action plan setting out the production schedule, monitoring contributors’ work, proofreading and initially validating texts;
  • engaging in exchanges with Permanent Delegations to UNESCO about the ramifications of the General History of Africa and of its Volume IX in particular.

The International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of Volume IX of the GHA includes sixteen high-ranking intellectuals from various African countries, but also North and South America, Europe and Asia.