General History of Africa gets more non-European dimensions

According to the website Afrique en ligne, Brazil is still the only country in the world which has introduced a law which advocates the teaching of African history and culture, including Afro-Brazilian history. This applies to primary and upper secondary grades and was revealed during a UNESCO expert meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe recently.

In Brazil, the passing of the 2003 law has resulted in the production and dissemination of information on African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture throughout the South American giant. Brazil’s Education National Programme Officer Marilza Regattieri, who presented a paper on Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories, said there had been challenges in implementing the law. “We have had challenges so far, like the approach to materials because the materials are only about slavery, which is the European version, and the teachers’ trainings do not prepare the teachers to relate to the subject,” she told the Pan African News Agency, or PANA.

Vice-chairperson of the Zimbabwean National Commission forUNESCO, Washington Mbizvo, spoke at the closure of the five-day UNESCO consultation meeting in Harare.

The meeting was attended by about 65 participants from different backgrounds, including historians, history education specialists, archaeologists, anthropologists, experts in education, psychology, curriculum and educational material development and history teacher trainers.

The Sankofa Bird - African proverb above-mentioned: "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter" © UNESCO

Much history teaching in Africa is still Eurocentric and it is against this backdrop that the Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa UNESCO project was launched to set a work plan.

The Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa project supported by UNESCO is oriented towards promotion of African unity, while it aims to develop common content for African countries’ history, syllabus and textbooks.

Used as a symbol of the Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa, 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).

Sankofa teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward.

Visually and symbolically Sankofa is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth.

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