About South African History Online
South African History Online (SAHO) was established in 1998 and registered in June 2000 as a not for profit Section 21 organisation. SAHO has the largest and most comprehensive online website on South African and African history and culture. In 2019 the website was used by 6.3m local and international visitors.
SAHO is a unique history project – its website, the organisation’s flagship project, is linked to a partnership programme with universities, community based history projects, educational and the cultural department of government.
SAHO, an award winning project, has become a national cultural and heritage asset. In April 2018 the State President awarded the CEO and Founder of SAHO, 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 is also a winner of the National Institute of Humanities and Social Science Annual Award for digital Humanities.
SAHO mission is to break the silence on our past and to address the biased way in which the historical and cultural heritage of South Africa and the continent has been represented in our educational and cultural institutions.
SAHO has committed itself to build partnerships with academic, heritage and community groups in South Africa and from the rest of the African continent in compiling a new history of the continent.
SAHO is committed to:
• Promoting a critical and non-sectarian understanding of our past, freedom of expression and open access to knowledge and information.
• Promoting, history by building partnerships to pool our intellectual and archival resources to undertake new research to build a new history of the continent.
• Contribute to the strengthening of the teaching and learning of history the building and making accessible a new archive.
History departments at the University of South Africa (UNISA), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and other local and international universities.
University of Glasgow
Institute of Justice and Reconciliation
University of South Africa (UNISA) Press
Department of Basic Education (DBE)
Department of Higher Education
UWC Centre for Humanities Research
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
Africa Media Online
Chris Hani Institue
Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC)
Our past and present sponsors
The National Lotteries Board
Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
The British Council
Western Cape Provincial Government
National Institute of Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS)
C.S. Mott Foundation
The Department of Basic Education
The Ford Foundation
Sol Plaatje Education Fund
Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA)Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA)
South African History Online is governed by a Board of Directors supported by full-time staff and student interns.
The SAHO Board
Omar Badsha, founder and CEO
Timeline: What Happened in History
A general chronology of events listing South African history and culture that covers politics, culture, sport and science. It also includes specialised timelines on aspects of South African history and includes events covering the history of individual African countries.
People in History: A Who’s Who
The SAHO website hosts 7,000 biographies, which makes this the largest biography project in South Africa. An important part of this biography project is the Lives of Courage Project, an online “Wall of Remembrance” which is a listing of biographies of people who have played a significant role the history of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa.
Politics and Governance
This section of the site examines the political history of South Africa. It houses many detailed research projects on political movements and organisations, with particular focus on South Africa’s liberation struggle history and the road to democracy.
Culture and Society
SAHO’s features & articles explore South African arts, heritage, culture, languages and religion. It also includes an online gallery of the work of artists, organisations writers, musicians, photographers, etc.
The Online Classroom is the mainstay of SAHO's schools History Project. It is made up of a number of inter-related projects aimed at popularising and strengthening the teaching of the new history and other subject areas curriculum. The online classroom consists of the entire history curriculum for grade 4 to grade 12. The lessons are downloadable for free. SAHO is working on publishing material for all the other subject areas.
SAHO conducts workshops for history teachers on how to use the World Wide Web for research and how to produce and publish their own multimedia lessons online.
National Oral History Project
SAHO and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) jointly run the annual Chief Albert Luthuli Young Historians Oral History Competition. This is a national oral history project, which invites learners and educators to undertake oral history projects on people who fought for freedom and those who are promoting democracy in their communities.
History of Places
This project is based on research and working with communities to compile a history of their cities, towns, and villages. It is the largest project of its kind in the country featuring heritage tours, galleries, and architecture. It also includes timelines, images and links to biographies of prominent South African political, arts and cultural figures on the SAHO website.
This is a fairly new but growing project, building a country by country history but also presenting broad themes that influenced African History. Our aim is to work towards building a partnership with academics from across Africa and internationally and to establish an independent African History website.
The SAHO archive is a unique feature of its website. It contains more than 50.000 documents, videos and images. The material in the archive is linked to features and acts as reference for articles, biographies, and other section of the website. It is an invaluable resource for furthering new research.
Student Internship Programme
SAHO initiated a student internship programme to provide history graduates with an opportunity to work as researchers in multimedia, networking and publishing. Many of SAHO's staff, who joined us as researchers, have proceeded to do PhDs, becoming senior researchers and lecturers.
Publication of curriculum material
SAHO has designed and published books and CDs for the Department of Basic Education to meet the needs of the country's new curriculum. These publications are intended particularly for those schools without computers or internet access.
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 and sixty PhD, masters and undergraduate students as part of our student internship programmes. SAHO’s interns include web design and information technology (IT) students.
In addition to our internship programmes, SAHO runs unique research and student exchange programmes with three American universities. We also have a partnership programme with Glasgow University in Scotland. Our aim is to develop partnerships and student exchange programmes with universities in the rest of Africa.
SAHO has held a number of very successful international conferences, in partnership with local universities, in the last 10 years. At least two of the conferences led to two publications.
SAHO has developed links with community-based projects and provides communities with assistance and training to undertake oral history projects and in the use of the internet to narrate their own and their communities’ histories. We have assisted community groups to build their own websites which has enabled communities to market their community heritage sites, local histories and festivals online. This programme has the potential to create jobs and promote tourism.
SAHO has a printing and publications programme that showcases and promotes the works of South African historians, artists and photographers. Since 2000, we have assembled, edited and published 16 books on history, culture and photography in partnership with local and international publishers.
SAHO has an online and a travelling exhibition programme. We have, over the past 20 years, organised a number of seminal exhibitions that have travelled locally and internationally. SAHO has also assisted artists and photographers with the designing, printing and marketing of their work.
SAHO has worked with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Universities and NGOs to promote cultural links with Africa and the rest of the world. Copies of SAHO’s publications have been donated to 150 libraries on the continent. SAHO exhibitions have been used within South Africa, as well as in Ethiopia, Norway, United States of America, Canada, Argentina, Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Australia and Mexico.
Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture
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). Mafika Gwala was a leading poet and member of the Black Peoples Convention As part of the annual lecture programme, we began a schools essay writing competition with 14 schools in Hammarsdale Township outside Durban.
See also our Timeline and Milestones.