Recent progress in text classification has been focused on high-resource languages such as English and Chinese. For low-resource languages, amongst them most African languages, the lack of well-annotated data and effective preprocessing, is hindering the progress and the transfer of successful methods. In this paper, we introduce two news datasets (KINNEWS and IRNEWS) for multi-class classification of news articles in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, two low-resource African languages. The two languages are mutually intelligible, but while Kinyarwanda has been studied in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to some extent, this work constitutes the first study on Kirundi. Along with the datasets, we provide statistics, guidelines for preprocessing, and monolingual and cross-lingual baseline models. Our experiments show that training embeddings on the relatively higher-resourced Kinyarwanda yields successful cross-lingual transfer to Kirundi. In addition, the design of the created datasets allows for a wider use in NLP beyond text classification in future studies, such as representation learning, cross-lingual learning with more distant languages, or as base for new annotations for tasks such as parsing, POS tagging, and NER. The datasets, stopwords, and pre-trained embeddings are publicly available at https://github.com/Andrews2017/KINNEWS-and-KIRNEWS-Corpus.