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The General History of Africa: Introduction

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The General History of Africa (GHA) is an international programme that aims to contribute to the study, presentation, and mutual appreciation of African cultures, including studies in linguistics, oral traditions, and art. Through the programme, eight volumes on African history, spanning from prehistory to the contemporary period, have been published by UNESCO in multiple languages between 1980 to 2021.

In 1964, the thirteenth session of UNESCO's General Conference authorized the Director-General to prepare for the publication of a General History of Africa. The GHA was intended to reflect UNESCO's growing number of African member states, and to fill in gaps in UNESCO's History of Humanity (7 volumes published between 1963 to 2008 - see also older editions published as History of Mankind).

The GHA is an initiative under the Office of the Director-General. In 1970, the International Scientific Advisory Committee for the Drafting and Publication of a General History of Africa was established to fulfil the project's aims. The Committee was composed of 30 members, appointed by the Director-General, and was led by the Bureau of the Committee, elected by the Committee each regular session. Until 1993, the General History of Africa was funded by UNESCO's regular programme budget. Afterwards, it was funded by extrabudgetary resources.

The subsequent International Scientific Committee for the Preparation and Publication of Volume IX of the General History of Africa, established in 2014, is also funded by extrabudgetary funds.

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