Coalition of Artists for The General History of Africa by Unesco
The concept of SANKOFA is derived from the Akan people of West Africa. The term comes from the words "san" (return), "ko" (go), and "fa" (look, seek, and take).
Why a general history of Africa?
"Crushed by centuries of oppression, Africa has seen generations of travelers, slave traders, explorers, missionaries, governors, and scholars of all kinds give out its image as one of nothing but poverty, barbarism, irresponsibility and chaos. And this image has been projected and extrapolated indefinitely in time, as a jurisdiction of both the present and the future... Is it surprising, then, that African History should have been accorded such a small and subordinate place in all the histories of mankind and of civilization" Introduction by J.Ki-Zerbo, GHA Volume I, Director of Volume I
"At a time when the peoples of Africa are striving towards unity and greater cooperation in shaping their individual destinies, a proper understanding of Africa's past, with an awareness of common ties among Africans and between Africa and other continents, should not only be a major contribution towards mutual understanding among the people of the earth, but also a source of knowledge of a cultural heritage that belongs to all mankind". Bethwell A. Ogot, President, International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa
"In the new African renaissance, we place great emphasis on the presentation of history"
"Our History needs to be written as the History of our society, not as the story of European adventures. African society must be treated as enjoying its own integrity; its History must be a Mirror of that society, and the European contact must find its place in this History only as an African experience, even if as a crucial one. That is to say, the European contact needs to be assessed and judged from the point of view of the principles animating African society, and from the point of view of the harmony and progress of this society." Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana, 1st Congress of Africanists, Accra, 1962
The monumental venture of recording the General History of Africa (GHA) was therefore initiated in 1964 in response to the aspirations of the newly independent African states to decolonize their History, and re-appropriate renewed discourses on the African past. Under the scientific and intellectual leadership of 39 members International Scientific Committee, including two-thirds of scholars from Africa such as A.Hampâté Bã, Pr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Pr. Gamal Mokhtar and more, some 350 authors, translators and volume editors from different regions, worked together for more than 35 years in view of the elaboration of the GHA.
Continue to read below for more information on the General History of Africa:
History was recorded from both written archives but also by confronting oral sources and little-known African written annals such as the Ajamis (in Wolof, Fulani, Mandingo, Bambara, Songhai, Soninke or Tamashek.... and calligraphed into Arabic script). The outcome forms a first series of 8 volumes; the main editions being in English, Arabic and French and translated into 13 languages including Kiswahili, Fulfude, and Hausa. In addition, 12 "studies and documents" and 13 volumes on the "Sources of African History" were published to accompany and complement the collection.
Please note that the volumes of the General History of Africa are available to consult and free to download. See some of the volumes and find more info by clicking the link below:
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The coalition of artists
Despite their undeniable scientific and political success, the first eight volumes of the GHA remained largely unknown to the general public and African youth. Drawing lessons from this, the global strategy for the second phase of the GHA has included a more attractive form for its products that is more in harmony with new forms of knowledge consumption, using digital technology and interactive, fun methods. It has also established a communication plan supported by opinion leaders, such as artists, to convey the message of the GHA to young Africans and the diaspora in particular. In that connection, UNESCO, represented by Ali Moussa Iye, chief of the section for History and Memory for Dialogue, as well as Tabue Nguma who coordinates the project since 2015, is establishing a network of African and non-African artists (musicians, film-makers, playwrights, actors, painters, photographers, etc.), called “the International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa”, in order to raise awareness among young Africans and the general public regarding the importance of a better understanding of the African continent’s history and cultures. A number of events have already taken place in Paris around different topics such as hip hop or the cinema and their artistic creations connected with the continent.
I had the pleasure to speak to both of them. They expressed their desire and commitment to see these resources reach a wider public, especially the youth in need of representation; as well as duplicating these artistic events, with a view to engaging a dialogue on African History. London could be a next location for such events.
See link below for more info and pics: