African Literary Metadata

Preliminary Results

ALMEDA is exploring new methodological and theoretical approaches to the problems faced by African expressive cultures in the formal archive. In this spirit, we will be publishing a series of exploratory pieces, meant to encourage discussion with other scholars and stakeholders in the field of African literary and expressive cultures and cultural heritage. These ALMEDA Pamphlets will allow us to make public our results more immediately than we can through formal academic publishing.

We will also be engaging in more traditional publications, all of which will be full open access and will be made available on our results page.

While we are building our searchable data repository, we will also be publishing some of our preliminary data sets here, since these may be useful even in their raw and unlinked versions. Let us know if you find our datasets helpful or if you have any suggestions, corrections or additions:


The ALMEDA pamphlet series is a space for preliminary discussion of the methodological, theoretical or empirical challenges and opportunities of critically investigating and engaging with literary metadata in the field of African Literary Studies. 

ALMEDA Pamphlet 1, January 2024

Preliminary Data

Swahili Newspaper Literature, compiled by Malin Runefelt and Max van Loenen. Based on original data from Richard Marshall Lepine. Swahili Newspaper Fiction in Kenya: The Stories of James I. Mwagojo. PhD, University of Wisonsin-Madison, 1988.

Drum Magazine 1951-1965, Literary Content, compiled by Ashleigh Harris. Based on freely accessible digitised images from the CRL Digital Delivery System and Dorothy C. Woodson Drum: An Index to ‘Africa’s Leading Magazine’ 1951-1965. African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 1988. 

Zonk! African People’s Pictorial

The South African magazine, Zonk! African People’s Pictorial, ran from August 1949 until June 1964, during which time it published 298 literary works, predominantly short stories and photo plays. The rise of the popularity of the photo play in the 1960s is evident in Zonk!, which began publishings 23-page photo…

Read more

Data modelling: Edi Ganzel’s serialised Swahili novels

Edi Ganzel was a prolific writer of serialised novels in late 1960s and early 1970s Tanzania. Ursula Oberst has been using his work in Kenyan magazine Taifa Weekly to model serialised fiction in our metadata ontology. Give her feedback and see her current modelling on our Wikidata project site. Image:…

Read more

Events: African Digital Humanities Symposium, Accra 15-16 February 2024

ALMEDA is proud to co-sponsor this year’s African Digital Humanities Symposium, Digital Humanities, African Stories and Agency organised by Brian Rosenblum and James Yékú of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas. The ALMEDA team will also partner with Karen Ijumba (Poetry Africa, Open…

Read more

Case Study: Zimbabwean Theatre Manuscripts

In August 2023, Ashleigh Harris partnered with ALMEDA researcher Pedzisai Maedza (University College Dublin), Nkululeko Sibanda (University of Pretoria), and Kelvin Chikonzo (University of Harare) to catalogue the manuscript collection of Rooftop Productions’ Theatre in the Park, directed by Daves Guzha. In addition to cataloguing the 253 manuscripts in Rooftop…

Read more