United Nations, 10 July -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) co-organized with the United Nations Department of Public Information a round table discussion on “The General History of Africa: Learning and Teaching about African Heritage” at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
This round table aimed 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 focused 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.
“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 UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.
“This 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 Maher Nasser, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Department of Public Information.
The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations Ambassador Macharia Kamau challenged the legacy of the perceptions of the African identity that have been solely based on the “western mindset”. This was complemented by the intervention of the Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota on the Brazilian experience in teaching about the human tragedy of slavery, and by the representative of the African Union who also spoke on the importance of teaching about the African contribution to the human civilizations.
Experts closely linked to the project discussed the challenges of the pedagogical use of the General History of Africa. The aim of the project is to contribute to the revamping of teaching history in African countries and the African Diaspora by elaborating common content 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 this content into their national curricula in order to promote the shared heritage of African people.
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.