EMANDULO - referring to eras in the distant past - is a temporally relative term. It foregrounds tricky issues concerning time.

Users will find materials on this website that refer to periods in the distant past. The materials were produced, collected, archived, reshaped, ignored and celebrated at many different points over time.

How we use the materials to enquire into the distant past depends on how we understand the processes that shaped them. As far as is possible, the EMANDULO website provides information about these processes.


EMANDULO is a new experimental platform that locates scattered material and brings it together in one place. It digitises the material, adds contextualising information and then makes it available online. EMANDULO focuses on material concerning the last five hundred years of southern African history.

The material has been made as searchable as possible. This creates opportunities for researchers to step beyond long-established, often colonial, institutional categories and disciplinary conventions and to ask new kinds of questions of, and to make new connections between, diverse materials.

What’s on EMANDULO?

Archival Curations are materials - texts, images, sound recordings and botanical specimens amongst other things, from local and international institutions and personal collections - convened digitally on EMANDULO, that can tell us about southern Africa’s deep past. They are presented archivally to highlight information about how they have been shaped and reshaped over time, subject to changing knowledge regimes and practices. This includes information about the collection and custodial histories of the material, including EMANDULO’s own interventions.

Presentations are engaging curatorial interventions, ranging from creative musical compositions to bibliographic projects, made or commissioned by the EMANDULO team. Covering a wide range of topics, they make use of the materials housed in the Archival Curations and in the General Repository.

The General Repository contains miscellaneous materials uploaded by the EMANDULO team and the community of users. The materials include early vernacular texts, out of copyright publications, theses, maps, images, and translations.

What does EMANDULO do?

What can users do?

Information about the deep past exists in many forms and places, including non-institutional settings like clan histories or praise poetry. Users are encouraged to participate in growing the EMANDULO knowledge base by contributing additional information and resources to the site. They can do this by creating a profile, adding commentary, annotations, information, transcriptions and translations, and by uploading relevant material.

Project Team

EMANDULO is developed by the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), a project of Archive and Public Culture (APC), under the direction of Professor Carolyn Hamilton, in partnership with Professor Hussein Suleman (Computer Science), University of Cape Town.

Usage Rights

The materials on EMANDULO are made available on the site under a CC BY-NC-ND licence which is periodically updated by Creative Commons.

Privacy Policy

No personal identifiable data is collected by this website.

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No information is stored on our servers. Google Analytics stores data on its servers.

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