South African History Online. South African History Online (SAHO).
Reviewed by Peter C. Limb
Published on H-SAfrica (November, 2002)
<i>South African History Online</i> http://www.sahistory.org.za includes some valuable texts and images on the history and culture of South Africa. The site is still under construction, but there is now sufficient data present for it to be a potential tool, especially for schools. <p> The site is arranged according to the following categories: people, town and country, arts and culture, classroom, special projects, chronology, and "lives of courage." <p> "Chronologies" cover events in the lives of individuals, such as Nelson Mandela, Sisulu, Gandhi (which ends inexplicably in 1909) and Paul Kruger, as well as themes such as "Chronology of African Independence" and "Chronology of Passive Resistance." <p> "People" includes the sub-categories Politics, Labour, Community, Arts, Media & Culture, Science & Medicine, and Sport. "Labour" currently covers only: Gwala, Harry; Nair, Billy; Mokgatle, Naboth; Murray, Thomas; Scheepers, Joey--mainly entries from <cite>The new dictionary of South Africa biography</cite> Volume 2, 1999. There are many more entries under "Politics," with many of these simply texts from the books <cite>From Protest to Challenge</cite>, Volume 4 (Political Profiles) and Sheila Gastrow, <cite>Who's Who in South African Politics</cite>, 3rd edition (which means that some entries are rather out of date). <p> Under "town and country" there are some interesting images, for instance in the project on "Grey Street, Durban," which also includes useful texts such as "Champion & the ICU" by Paul Tichman. <p> Under "arts and culture" there are the categories of Fine Art (Gallery), Architecture (Rural Architecture), Literature (History of Black South African Literature; Poetry; Newspapers (New Age), Music and Dance (Kwaito), Popular Culture (Kwaito), Museums & Monuments (The New Group, Pretoria Art Museum), Archives (List of South African Archives), People (Important People in South African Arts & Culture), <p> SPECIAL PROJECTS listed are: <p> The Dutch East India Company, The South African Wars (article by S.B. Spies), The Great Trek, Garveyism, Rand Rebellion of 1922, Sharpeville, June 16--Youth Day, June 26--Freedom Day, 09 August--Womens' Day, 1956-1961--Treason Trial, ONLINE WALL OF REMEMBRANCE, KwaMsiza--a Ndebele village, Grey Street <p> "Publications" on the site include texts and photographic images from books by Omar Badsha, <cite>Amulets and dreams: war, youth & change in Africa</cite> (which includes galleries on Sierra Leone, Angola, Mozambique, Eritrea, Burundi and Ethiopia) and <cite>Imperial Ghetto--Ways of seeing in a South African city</cite>, as well as<cite>With Our Own Hands</cite>, on poverty in South Africa. <p> <cite>South African History Online</cite>, funded by the Ford Foundation and Ireland Aid, comprises a website and a community and schools programme. It is a non-profit NGO, "a people's" history and internet-based project that consists of an open, non-partisan website linked to a schools' and community based outreach programme, which sets to build a comprehensive database on South African history and arts." It was established to "realise the long held goals of our democratic movements to: <p><blockquote> "break the silence" on the historic and cultural heritage and achievements of the country's black communities; celebrate the achievements of all those who helped foster and who fought for the realisation of a common humanity, the building of a non-racial democracy and the celebration of our cultural diversity" (from the home page).</blockquote> <p> On this basis, the site should be judged a success. It is good to see these texts online. They often are presented in a creative fashion likely to appeal to youth. However, some of the essays are without attribution and students making use of the pages will need some advice on evaluating sources. There are no links to History Departments or to many of the other useful resources on South African history. At present, students are not encouraged to see or consider the plurality of views on the topics covered. Some of the sections appear rather eclectic and incomplete, no doubt partly due to the ongoing nature of the project, but perhaps also due to limited consultation with specialists. It would be nice to know <cite>who</cite> is directing things and writing the pages. Nevertheless, the creators of the site have already achieved a lot and the potted biographies in particular will be a handy source for users from diverse callings. <p>
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Peter C. Limb. Review of , South African History Online.
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