Center for Research Libraries - Global Resources Network

Resources for

World Newspaper Archive – African Newspapers

James Simon
Director, Global Resources Network - Center for Research Libraries


Cover page advertising in the May 14, 1920 issue of the Nigerian Pioneer. From CRL’s World Newspaper Archive–African Newspapers.

In the Winter 2008–09 issue of FOCUS on Global Resources, we outlined the goals of the World Newspaper Archive (WNA), a collaborative effort of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), its partner libraries, and Readex (a division of News- Bank) to preserve and provide persistent electronic access to historical newspapers from around the globe. The program was launched in 2008 with the financial and in-kind investment of CRL’s member institutions. In this multi-year and multi-stage endeavor, CRL and affiliates combine expertise and resources to digitize and make available for scholarly use their newspaper holdings from several world regions. The first phase of the effort made content from Latin America accessible, with more than 1 million pages of content from 35 titles produced in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The WNA’s latest module, African Newspapers, was released in January 2010. African Newspapers will make available more than 400,000 fully searchable pages of newspapers published in Africa between 1800 and 1922. The module features titles published in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Languages include English, German, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Sotho, and others.

WNA Charter Participants, faculty members, and subject experts from the Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP) all recommended titles. The final material, nearly 40 titles in all, was selected for breadth of coverage, diversity of viewpoints, and historical significance.

At the time of this writing, African Newspapers contains more than 325,000 pages of content from the majority of intended titles (content continues to be released on a rolling basis). The following list highlights but a few of the titles represented in the archive.

Eastern Africa

The East African Standard, Mombasa Times, and Uganda Argus (Mombasa, Kenya) 1903–15.

Karachi-born A. M. Javanjee founded the African Standard in 1902 and sold it to European owners in 1905. This weekly edition featured cable news, items of importance to European settlers, and events of local interest. The Standard Group became the dominating force in English-language journalism in East Africa in the early 20th century.

The Central African Times/Nyasaland Times (Blantyre, Malawi) 1899– 1908, 1911–22.

Local Scotsman R. S. Hynde founded The Central African Times to cater to the region’s European settlers. After a brief closure in 1908, the paper resumed publishing as the Nyasaland Times, including expanded coverage of world events. This title became the main newspaper in Nyasaland (now Malawi) during the colonial era.

Western Africa

Gold Coast Leader (Cape Coast, Ghana) 1902–22.

This highly lauded nationalist title began in 1902 and continued until the early 1930s. Cofounder and editor J. E. Casely Hayford was a prominent activist, journalist, and author of Ethiopia Unbound, one of the first West African novels published in English.

Lagos Weekly Record (Lagos, Nigeria) 1891–1921.

The Lagos Weekly Record, begun in 1890 by Liberian immigrant John Payne Jackson, often criticized British colonization and control of Lagos, and forcefully urged racial consciousness and African nationalism.

Sierra Leone Weekly News (Freetown, Sierra Leone) 1884–1922.

Founded in 1884 by J. C. May and E. W. Blyden (widely regarded as the “father of Pan-Africanism”), the title was a major newspaper on the West Coast of Africa for more than 60 years.

Southern Africa

Leselinyana la Lesutho (Morija, Lesotho) 1863–1922.

Founded in 1863, this Sesotho-language title was one of the first newspapers in southern Africa to appear in an African language; it also serialized important authors’ work in regional languages.

It was published in Morija as the organ of the Lesotho Evangelical Church, supported by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society.

La Cloche (Tamatave, Madagascar) 1880–92.

This weekly title began publication in 1880 in the city of Tamatave (now Toamasina) and focused on independent reporting, featuring political and literary announcements of interest to a primarily European audience.

Beira Post (Beira, Mozambique) 1898–1917.

With publication beginning in 1893–94, and restarting in 1898, the Beira Post was the first newspaper published in Mozambique and was written in both English and Portuguese (as Correio da Beira).

O Brado Africano (Maputo, Mozambique) 1918–22.

João Albasini founded O Brado Africano, a successor to the liberal reform paper O Africano, in 1918. The weekly title was printed in both Portuguese and Ronga and featured many of Mozambique’s young writers.

Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser (Cape Town, South Africa) 1806–26.

Slave dealers Alexander Walker and John Robertson started the Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser, South Africa’s first newspaper, in 1800. With articles in English and Afrikaans, the title was changed briefly in 1803 to Kaapsche Courant but the English title was restored in 1806.

Ilanga Lase Natal (Durban, South Africa) 1903–22.

The first Zulu/English newspaper, this publication was founded in 1903 by John Dube, the first president of the African National Congress.

Indian Opinion (Durban, South Africa) 1903–22.

Founded by Mohandas Gandhi in 1903, Indian Opinion advocated for the rights of Indians living in South Africa.

Tsala ea Becoana/Tsala ea Batho (Kimberly, South Africa) 1910–15.

Solomon T. Plaatje founded Tsala ea Becoana in 1910 (changed to Tsala ea Batho in 1912–13). Marketed as a native-owned independent publication, the newspaper contains records of the early meetings of the African National Congress.

Buluwayo Chronicle (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) 1894–1922.

The Buluwayo Chronicle, among the earliest press publications in what is now known as Zimbabwe, started in 1894 as a weekly and graduated to a daily (except Sundays) in 1897. It was founded by John William Howard of the South Africabased Argus Printing and Publishing Company (publishers of the Rhodesia Herald, among other titles) and edited by H. S. Hodges.

The World Newspaper Archive employs the robust and reliable search-and-discovery platform used by Readex’s major newspaper databases: Early American Newspapers and Hispanic American Newspapers. African Newspapers is cross-searchable with these products as well as other modules of the World Newspaper Archive.

Thirty-seven CRL Charter Participants invested in the launch of this phase of the World Newspaper Archive, and CRL offers highly favorable rates for those member institutions that request ongoing access. Member investment goes directly back to CRL for additional conversion activity.

CRL guarantees the long-term persistence and continued functionality of the news content for the CRL community. CRL aims to ensure not only persistent access, but CRL member control over the future costs and quality of that access.

Additional information on this module can be found at: http://www.crl.edu/collaborative-digitization/world-newspaper-archive/african-newspapers.