SAHO’s Mission Statement
South African History Online (SAHO) is a non-partisan people's history institution. It was established in June 2000 as a non-profit Section 21 organisation, to address the biased way in which South Africa’s history and heritage, as well as the history and heritage of Africa is represented in our educational and cultural institutions.
SAHO is committed to promoting history and critically engaging with our past through the building of a comprehensive online encyclopaedia and popular history programmes on South African and African history and culture.
SAHO is committed to developing multi-faceted and integrated educational outreach projects that serve to promote research critical to the understanding of our past, strengthen the teaching and learning of history and the telling of the stories of ordinary people who have contributed to freedom and the building of democracy, non racialism, and a just society.
History and background
Online Encyclopaedia of South African History:
SAHO is the largest popular history project of its kind on the continent. The flagship project is its website, which is a vast encyclopaedia on South African and African history. The website is acknowledged for its accuracy, with all its articles carefully referenced and all featured articles are linked to a vast archive of documents, journal articles, online books and images.
SAHO’s website along with its innovative education, internship and partnership programmes with universities, museums and archives is aimed at strengthening research, the teaching and learning of history and the popularising of history more broadly.
It has also changed the way people and institutions can access, contribute to and use history and archives. The success of the SAHO website can be gauged from the fact that in 2016 there were 11 million page views with over 5 million unique or first time visitors to our website.
SAHO’s schools history project includes the publication of the entire history curriculum material which is free, downloadable, and linked to the vast archive of material on our website. SAHO also works closely with the Department of Basic Education in developing resources for use by teachers in schools.
In 2010 SAHO initiated the Chief Albert Luthuli Young Historians Oral History Project which has become part of the Department’s annual programme. The material produced by the students is published and accessible on our website.
Art under Apartheid
in 2016 we received funding from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) for the first phase of the research programme on “Art Under Apartheid“. This allowed us to get the research of the ground, which began with the weekly publication of new features on art under apartheid. We also organised the second Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and launched three books at this event.
History of the South African Student Movements and Organisations
Our project on the history of the student movement is ongoing with new material being uploaded regularly.
Liberation History and Archival Project
One of SAHO’s key features is the history of South Africa and in particular its liberation struggle. We have a vast and growing archive of material and we have teamed up with a range of institutions and organisations to build our website into the leading platform of its kind on the African continent.
Our aim in the next three years is to continue to add to the features we have thus far and expand the scope to include the history of other liberation organisations and their armed struggle in Southern Africa, as well as the history of the international anti-apartheid movements.
Institutional Partners and Student Internship partners
SAHO has built a dynamic partnership with a number of local and international university history departments which helps generate new research and content for our website. In addition we run a Student Internship Programme with our institutional partners which is the only one of its kind in the country, where history students together with IT and Design students get to work in a dynamic online archive, as well as in the production of exhibitions, publications and materials for use in classrooms and lecture theatres. Since 2012 eighty four students have served an internship of between 6 and 12 months, with 33 interns joining the organisation in 2017.
Popular History and partnership with community history groups
The SAHO programme to build partnership projects with local history groups is central to its goal of building a people-centred history. Our work with local history groups such as Popular Education, Children’s Resource Centre, Claremont History Project is ongoing.
Exhibition, Publications and Conferences
SAHO hosts regular conferences with its university partners and has produced a number of ground breaking exhibitions and publications.
African History Portal
SAHO in 2013 began the discussion to build an African history website and educational project. SAHO has completed the first phase of this project by producing short country profiles as well as publishing online books and documents. Our aim is to continue adding content and to start a conversation with African historians and African Studies departments to help us jointly build the African History website.
See a full list of past projects.