DW′s African Roots project: Making Africa′s history tangible | Press | DW | 12.05.2021
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DW's African Roots project: Making Africa's history tangible

​​​​​​​DW's African Roots series portrays 50 personalities from African history. Narrated in African voices, they serve as the basis for audience debates in social media, on the radio, or at historical sites.

The now-completed 50-part series of portraits of African historical figures is the centerpiece of the multimedia project, a collaboration between DW, the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Nigerian animation company the Comic Republic. The series personalizes the continent's history and makes it tangible. Together, the short stories create a comprehensive picture of Africa's diverse history. The series is published in six languages and is aimed mainly at a young audience.

"DW cannot undo centuries of colonial interpretation of history in 50 portraits, but it can use its resources and honest cooperation to help convey the latest and most authentic scientific knowledge in a way that is appropriate for young people. Something like this has been missing from the African media landscape until now," says Claus Stäcker, Director of Programs for Africa.

Dr. Michael Hanssler, Chairman of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, which is funding the project, emphasizes that "it is essential to counter a distorted perception of African history." African Roots seeks to accomplish this with the help of African authors and personalities who are in a unique position to speak for the history of their continent. He also points to the important role of the scientific advisory board. "The technical review of all content has also been carried out by researchers in Africa."

The scientific advisory board consists of three renowned historians: Doulaye Konaté from Mali, Nigeria's Christopher Ogbogbo, and Lily Mafela from Botswana. The project's goal is to "meet the growing need to appreciate African history as an important part of human history," says Mafela, dean of the education faculty at the University of Botswana.

The portraits will be distributed on DW programs and social media platforms and through some 300 radio and TV partners in Africa. In addition, they will be made available directly to educational institutions in Africa. Schools, universities, and libraries can share them with learners of all ages to help them understand their history.

Watch the debates in English and in French.

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