With the presence of renowned intellectuals Roberto Fernández Retamar, Miguel Barnet and Yolanda Wood Pujols, the 5th Meeting of the International Scientific Committee of Volume IX of the General History of Africa was inaugurated in Havana’s Casa de las Américas this Monday, January 23.

Also attending were UNESCO members – such as the Director of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Katherine Muller-Marin, and Ali Moussa-Iye, chief of the Section History and Memory for Dialogue – among other academics and intellectuals linked to the study of the African continent. The announced objectives of this edition were “to update scientific research on the history of Africa, in addition to putting the African Diaspora at the heart of our project and assessing the position of the region in the contemporary world.”

The challenge facing the Scientific Committee is to compile a book dedicated to the thought and study of the global African Diaspora. Aimed at disseminating the historiography of the continent, it reflects one of the purposes of UNESCO, to compensate for global ignorance on the subject, noted Wood Pujols, a member of the International Scientific Committee of the event, chaired by Professor Augustin Holl.

“The history of Africa should be included in the educational plans of our country and the world,” stated writer Miguel Barnet, author of the classic Biography of a Runaway Slave (1966) and president of UNEAC, the Fernando Ortiz Foundation and the Cuban committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project.

During the inauguration, the historic ties between Africa and Cuba were recognized. Retamar, who heads the cultural institution hosting the event, recalled the Cuban commitment to the liberation of African countries such as Angola. He referred to support for the struggles against apartheid and also recalled Operation Carlota. The work of Cuban medical missions in Africa was also discussed, with the sacrifice of Cuban doctors who faced the Ebola epidemic highlighted.