History of Africa – get to know this important UNESCO’s project

General History of Africa

We would like to present you this important and ambitious UNESCO project – General History of Africa and share the links to the 8 volumes already published.

This is a huge but indispensable project for the reconstruction of African history and recognition of the contribution of African cultures to the general progress of humanity.

About the Project General History of Africa

In 1964, UNESCO launched the elaboration of the General History of Africa (GHA) 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 General History of Africa (GHA) is a pioneering corpus, unparalleled in its ambition to cover the history of the entire African continent, since the appearance of human beings to contemporary challenges faced by Africans and their Diasporas in the world. It is a history that no longer leaves the pre-colonial period in the shadows and that deeply integrates the destiny of Africa into that of humanity by highlighting its relations with the other continents and the contribution of African cultures to the general progress of humanity.

The complete collection is published in eight volumes. All volumes are richly illustrated with maps, charts, figures and diagrams and a selection of black and white photographs. The texts, for the most part, are fully annotated and there is an extensive bibliography and index.

In recent years, UNESCO has embarked on the preparation and drafting of three new volumes of the GHA (Volumes IX, X and XI).

Global Africa : an innovative concept

Until now, Africa and its diasporas have often been presented as distinct groups, separated by oceans, that have had only sporadic contact during brief historical moments. The writers of the new volumes of the General History of Africa wish to break with this binary and simplistic perspective of relations between Africa and its diasporas.

By introducing the concept of global Africa, the International Scientific Committee wishes to propose an innovative reinterpretation of these connections. This concept makes it possible to understand the history of relations between Africans and people of African descent as an interconnected and continuous process, comprising the circulation of people, knowledge, know-how, and cultural productions and whose matrix is the African heritage.

The concept also makes it possible to go beyond the issue of race and focus on Africa's multifaceted presence in different regions of the world and the diversity of its influences on other cultures. Thus, geographically, the African presence is no longer seen simply from the perspective of the Atlantic world (Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean) but in a truly globalized way, taking into account the diasporas of the Indian Ocean, the Near and Middle East and Asia.

Historically, this presence has been considered over time since ancient times, to illustrate the different waves of “outflows” from Africa (African explorations and expansions outside the continent, mass deportations of Africans to different regions of the world by trafficking, displacements caused by colonization, postcolonial migrations, etc.). In addition to its usefulness in reflecting the diversity of trajectories and the continuity of relationships, the concept of global Africa also provides a better understanding of the aspirations of new generations in Africa and its diasporas to contribute to the African Renaissance and the construction of a twenty-first century pan-Africanism.

Readers interested in deepening their knowledge of African history can download the General History of Africa Collection for free (8 volumes) published by UNESCO.

VOL 1

VOL 2

VOL 3

VOL 4

VOL 5

VOL 6

VOL 7

VOL 8

We hope that this sharing will contribute to a greater understanding of the history of Africa and african art and culture.

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