General History of Africa

© Sulaiman Ishola
"African Faces", acrylic painting on Canvas

In 1964, UNESCO launched the elaboration of the General History of Africa with a view to remedy the general ignorance on Africa’s history. The challenge consisted of reconstructing Africa’s history, freeing it from racial prejudices ensuing from slave trade and colonization, and promoting an African perspective.

UNESCO therefore called upon the then utmost African and non African experts. These experts’ work represented 35 years of cooperation between more than 230 historians and other specialists, and was overseen by an International Scientific Committee which comprised two-thirds of Africans.

The result was the elaboration of the General History of Africa into eight volumes (Phase I of the project). This huge task, completed in 1999, had a great impact in Africa and, beyond, within the scientific and academic circles and is considered as a major contribution to the knowledge of Africa’s history and historiography.

Given its importance for humanity, the General History of Africa was translated into thirteen languages including English, French, Arabic, but also into three African languages. In pursuing its efforts for Africa, UNESCO has just launched the second phase of the project which is entitled “The Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa”.

Read the Preface of the collection by Amadou-Mahtar M'bow, Director General of UNESCO from 1974 to 1987  

 Read the Project description by Bethwell Allan Ogot, President of the International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa (8 August 1979)



Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa


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