South African History Online Mission Statement
South African History Online (SAHO), is Section 21 non-profit organisation which was established in 2000, to address the bias in the way South Africa’s and Africa’s history and heritage, was represented under colonialism and apartheid in our educational, cultural and heritage institutions.
SAHO’s flagship project is its online encyclopaedia and archive of South African and African History. The SAHO website has grown into one of the largest website on the African continent. The website has become to promote research and a place for people to tell their own stories and to strengthen the teaching and learning of history on the continent.
SAHO is committed to promoting democracy and non-racialism and the building of just societies and to ensure that knowledge is free, accessible, and contributes to a critical engagement with our past and towards development.
Since its formation in 2000, South African History Online (SAHO) has grown into the largest public history, educational and heritage project in South Africa. SAHO’s flagship project is its website, which comprises a vast archive and repository of articles and educational resources that is added to weekly. The articles on its website are well-referenced and widely acknowledged for their accuracy. Articles on the website are linked to a growing archive of documents, journal articles, online books, photographs, videos and audio clips.
The content on the website is written by a small team of dedicated researchers, supported by interns and academics from local and international partner universities. Additional contributions are made by student interns, interested individuals, community based history groups and heritage institutions.
SAHO is a pioneer in the use of Internet technology (IT) to reconfigure the colonial and apartheid archive and making it accessible by linking features on our website to relevant archival documents, journal articles, images, and videos.
SAHO’s archive has nearly 50,000 documents and books, close on to 20,000 images and videos, and approximately 7,000 biographies which makes it the largest biography project in South Africa.
The success of SAHO’s project to use the website to promote history can be judged by the fact that in 2018 the website was visited by just over six million people. This visitor number, since 2010, has increased year by year by between 15% - 25%. SAHO’s social media platforms, reach just over 100,000 people a month and on special national days such as June 16th Youth Day, up to 400,000 people visit or share our material. Our media footprint is huge because material from our website is used daily by South African and African radio and TV stations and by news and history sites around the world.
The saho website is underpinned by a innovative educational project which comprises of an online history curriculum material, student internship and a partnership programme with local and international universities to share and generate new research, and to jointly organise conferences, publishing and exhibitions.
SAHO’s School Education Programme revolves around its online History Classroom project, supplemented by a number of other programmes aimed at strengthening the teaching and learning of history.
The History Classroom programme was developed in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). SAHO has produced freely-available, downloadable history curriculum material, covering Grade 4 to Grade 12, together with lesson plans and a range of other resources.
Our aim is to produce, curriculum material and related resources covering other learning areas, such as arts and culture, geography, etc. SAHO has also produced publications and exhibitions for the Department of Basic Education and other resources for use in schools.
In addition to the history classroom, SAHO initiated the Chief Albert Luthuli Young Historians Oral History project in partnership with the Department Basic Education. This project encourages high school students to undertake interviews with people in their community who played a role in fighting for freedom and democracy and in making a difference in their communities.
Higher Education Partnership and Student Internship Programme
Unlike Wikipedia, SAHO is committed to building partnerships with institutions of higher education so that we can draw on and contribute to knowledge production that supports teaching and learning and to ensure the integrity of our content.
SAHO has jointly undertaken research, publications and exhibition programmes with both local and international universities.
Since 2012 SAHO has taken on over one hundred PhD, masters and undergraduate students as part of our student internship programmes. SAHO’s interns include students of web design and information technology (IT).
In addition to our internship programmes, SAHO runs unique research and student exchange programmes with three American universities. We aim to develop partnership and student exchange programmes with universities in other African countries
The material on the website is used extensively by learners, teachers, and by most history and education departments in the country. It is recognised as an accurate and reliable source of information and is regularly cited in tertiary education dissertations and journal articles.
Publications, Exhibitions and Conferences
SAHO runs a small publishing press, which includes a programme to publish the memoirs of anti-apartheid activists as part of our “Lives of Courage” publication series. We have also curated joint exhibitions and conferences with our partner institutions.
In 2016, SAHO launched the annual Mafika Gwala Lecture in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the National Institute of Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS). Since 2017, as part of the annual lecture programme, we began a schools essay writing competition with 14 schools in Hammarsdale township outside Durban.
One of SAHO’s major objectives is the promotion of a history that recognises the importance of gathering oral histories of individuals and that of compiling histories of communities and the role that ordinary people played in the making of democratic South Africa. SAHO also runs a programme to help community history and social advocacy groups to build and maintain their own websites.
In April 2018, the State President presented SAHO’s CEO, Omar Badsha, the National Order of Ikhamanga, citing “for his commitment to the preservation of our country’s history through ground-breaking and well-balanced research and collection of profiles and events of the struggle for liberation.”
SAHO was the winner of the 2016 National Institute of Humanities and Social Science’s Annual Award for digital Humanities.
The SAHO Board
Dr. Ashraf Dockrat
Dr. Ciraj Rassool
Mr Jabulani Sikhakhane
Dr. Yacoob Abba Omar
Ms Xolelwa Kashe-Katiya
Mr. Omar Badsha, founder and CEO