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Kumusha Takes Wiki.
Kumusha Takes Wiki is a multi-country, multi-faceted project that aims at activating communities across Africa to create and contribute freely-licensed information, texts, images and media about their communities (villages, townships, suburbs, inner cities, etc) to an online platform. It uses community journalism to gather community-relevant information on heritage, culture, notable persons, geographical features, among other things. It gives each community an online presence that is ‘owned’ by the community, provide information that can be pulled into Wikipedia, and it adds immeasurably to the understanding of Africa to every human being on the planet (from the people in the village to the person in New York, Mumbai or Milan).
The project’s actions are designed to harness the power of technology to raise awareness of the richness of personal and community-based knowledge, encourage people across a vast range of socio-economic and age groups to contribute to the Wikipedias and ensure that global representations of Africa are complex, layered and contextualized.
Open knowledge on Wikipedia and its sister projects
Wikipedia is an online multilingual encyclopedia on the Internet that uses a wiki (flexible open source software that allows multiple users and contributors) to achieve its aims. It aims to give every human being on the planet access to the knowledge of every community. By mid-2013, the web-based version enjoys 500 million unique visitors every month and operates in over 250 languages.
Wikipedia provides freely-licensed content that is anyone can change, improve but also reuse elsewhere. CC-BY-SA is a Creative Commons licence that is used by Wikipedia. The Licence provides a legally-solid way to maintain the protection of educational, scientific and creative intellectual property, whilst also allowing the material to take advantage of the promotion, access and dissemination capabilities of the Internet. This licence is necessary for example in order for the public artworks of Cape Town to be able to be used to create articles on Wikipedia. A case study relating to this type of project is available here: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Government_use_of_Creative_Commons. Thanks to this open license, the content of the Wikimedia projects can be independently re-distributed through various platforms, as extract or as whole, to reach even more readers. Redistribution can occur for example on the Facebook community pages, or on the Orange platform http://wikipedia.orange.fr, or in downloadable versions to be put on a usb key http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Main_Page. The content (text, images, sounds) may also be tweaked and reused in other websites, textbooks, as long as the channel abides by the same rules of access as Wikipedia. In this way, Wikipedia can be accessed via phone applications, or newspapers, making it an available resource for teachers, associations, or businesses. Wikipedia may be edited by anyone. It operates with important rules that ensure a complete, readable, updated and non-biased approach to knowledge. It has also put a huge focus on sources, their quality, and verifiability of content, a challenge for oral-based cultures. Wikipedia is a powerful tool to access information about a country, its inhabitants, its culture and its economic life, whether directly online, from a cell phone or through offline access. But it ought not to be seen only as a way to access information but may also be a teaching tool, rich and stimulating for the participant. For this reason, many teachers actually do use Wikipedia-editing as a tool to teach their students various soft-skills.
Wikipedia also has sister-projects, referred to as Wikimedia projects, amongst which Wikimedia Commons and Wikibooks. Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-to-use images, sound, and other media files. By mid-2013, Commons contains over 17 millions freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute. It acts as the visual and media repository for Wikipedia articles. Photographs and media files (videos, sound and documents) are uploaded to this site, and then pulled into any Wikipedia article to illustrate the concepts discussed in the article. The importance for this project is that it allows a visual representation of public art (a visual medium) to illustrate any article that discusses the subjects relating to the public art in Cape Town. The articles could be about the artists, the place, the architecture, and public art in general as well as other subjects. Wikibooks is a free content textbook and annotated texts that anyone can edit. It contains various types of books, some being dedicated to children (here is an example of a book for young people: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior:Kings_and_Queens_of_England)
Wikimedia and Africa: still a long way to go
Unfortunately, even though Wikipedia exists in many local or ‘indigenous’ languages spoken in Africa, these versions are mostly underdeveloped, largely because of the smaller number of speakers of these languages, and the lack of community around these languages. For example, Setswana, a language largely spoken in Botswana only features 500 articles (compared to over 4 millions articles in English). The population of 5,5 million Setswana speakers (distributed in South Africa and Botswana) cannot compare realistically to an estimated 1 500 million English (first language, second language and foreign language) speakers that are distributed across the world. Besides, even in developed linguistic versions such as English of French, the representation of Africa in articles is still very much in infancy.Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute has said: “Every day, countless decisions are made and countless opinions formed based on information available in Wikipedia. … Representations within the online encyclopaedia therefore undoubtedly have cultural, economic and political effects.” (2009). Just by analysing the geotagged articles (articles that indicate a place or an event) on, Wikipedia, we can see unacceptable skews of Westernised viewpoints. Europe and North America are overwhelming the source of 84% of all articles that are geotagged (Graham 2012). This means that almost all of Africa is inadequately represented in the encyclopedia, with more Wikipedia articles detailing information on Antarctica (7,800 out of 1.5 million articles) than about any one country in Africa or South America (Graham 2012). As a result, even on the English Wikipedia, much of the world isn’t represented. Some places simply have nothing written about them or are only accessible to people with certain positionalities (for example, speaking the language in which the article is written), or their written attributes of place can still stay cloaked and invisible in the virtual palimpsests.
Here is a quick example of content of very poor quality on the French and English version:
The very poor quality of articles related to Africa in Wikipedia has several unfortunate impacts, including the following:
This means that of the people on the continent that do access Wikipedia, many either do so to get knowledge about places other than Africa, or they feel that Wikipedia is not a place for that reflects them, and thus they do not return, nor feel compelled to edit, add or contribute new information to Wikipedia.
Africa holds around 15% of the world population. The chart above shows how, despite unprecedented access to the internet via mobile phones, Africa still has a long way to go to gain access for all to Wikipedia: 1.4 % of Wikipedia page views is low, but still one and a half times more than 3 years ago.
So, despite Wikipedia’s ease of access and the ability for anyone to edit, a large diversity of people simply do not edit Wikipedia. Of Wikipedia’s active editors, four out of five editors are male, half are under the age of 22 and four out of five edits come from countries in the Global North. This landscape has not changed as the mobile and digital revolution has made significant changes in Africa to how people access information, both local and global.
Of the 16% of knowledge that relates to an article about the South, the majority of writers of these articles (three out of four) come from the Global North (Wikimedia 2011; Graham 2012); and so the Western distortion persists.
“The geography of authorship is also reportedly highly uneven, thus allowing for voices and opinions from certain parts of the world to be disproportionately visible. Again, while there are no comprehensive studies in this area, figure [4, below] indicates that at least some parts of the world have a large number of representations written by non-locals.” (2012: 277)
The 2013 Figure 3 presents the location of the editors of geolocated articles where only 5% of articles about Africa are written by people with I.P. addresses that have been ascribed to an African territory.
This figure has to be viewed in the light of the statistics that represents the dearth of articles about Africa, but it also shows that, with the notable exception of South Africa and Uganda, in those countries that are coloured yellow or light orange the majority of knowledge about those places come from a distance place at best.
As the largest volunteer organisation in the world, Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. This project aims to activate Africa’s anyones.
Initiatives to stimulate addition of localized content to Wikimedia projects
Geography-related articles are very important to Wikipedians. It allows them to cast light on their local surroundings and bring pride. It also is a good way to begin as a participant as it is easier to start by describing their own village, local culture, local buildings, and regional football team than it is to start by writing about the Prince of Anhua rebellion or the Kuwaiti electrochemist Faiza Al-Kharafia or the threat of stereotype.
Geography-related articles also carry the opportunity of physical meetings between participants, mixing together new and old participants for more sharing, training and inspiration. Such meetings are organized as “barn raising” events and may feature wiki-editing training sessions, wiki-take-your-city, edit-a-thons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:How_to_run_an_edit-a-thon), photographic equipment sharing, public outreach in the street and so on.
For this reason, many of the initiatives carried out to foster participation are related to organize local events to support the creation of local content. In most very involved countries, those initiatives are carried by volunteers or organized by Wikimedia chapters. The Kumusha project, through the Wikipedian in Residence would aim to be the organizer or facilitator of such events.
OpenStreetMap is a free, editable map of the whole world. Unlike proprietary datasets like Google Map Makers, the OpenStreetMap licence allows free access to the full map dataset. This massive amount of data can be downloaded in full, but also is available in immediately-useful forms like maps and commercial services. The project was started because proprietary datasets have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive, or unexpected ways. More information about the OSM project may be found here: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Press_Kit.
Wiki Loves Monuments
Wiki Loves Monuments is one of these typical events, which belong to the general category “Wiki takes your city”. Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM) is an annual international photographic competition during September, organized worldwide by the Wikimedia community members. Participants take pictures of historical monuments and heritage sites in their region, and upload them to Wikimedia Commons. The aim of event is to highlight the heritage sites of the participating countries. The first Wiki Loves Monuments competition was held in 2010 in the Netherlands. The next year it spread to other countries in Europe and according to the Guinness Book of Records, the 2011 edition of the Wiki Loves Monuments broke the world record for the largest photography competition. In 2012, the competition was extended beyond Europe, with a total of 35 participating countries (including Ghana, Kenya and South Africa).
Wiki Takes Your City
Wiki Takes Your City is a name holder for a one-day wiki scavenger hunt and free photographs contest conducted in a particular locale, where participants compete to take photographs of as many local sights as possible for Wikipedia articles where they are needed. Shorter in duration than Wiki Loves Monuments, it also does not focus on historical monuments but rather on the improvement of articles related to a local area.
Driven by specifically trained Wikipedians in Residence and local teams, the multiple actions - Kumusha Takes Wiki and Wiki Loves Africa - involves activating communities to contribute, edit, and validate local environmental, heritage, and cultural information and media to support this knowledge to community-specific websites. The project uses multiple platforms and ways of engagement to access all information that is deemed relevant and important by the community - this can include, but is not limited to, notable persons, geographic features, geographic data, local myths and legends, cultural ambassadors, local architecture, etc. The Wikipedian in Residence and the actions are aimed at ensuring high quality information is collected, validated, edited and uploaded and also promotes active participation online by community individuals. The actions harness digital technology and on-the-ground, age-relevant community activities (meet-ups, events, incentives, competitions and community feedback) to achieve the goals
Furthermore the project has a wider geographical frame and it is targeting more broadly over time Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (DRC), Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.
Kumusha Takes Wiki take place in Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda. The training takes place in South Africa. Ivory Coast and Uganda are countries where the France Telecom Orange group is present and these are three countries already benefiting from the Wikipedia Zero partnership between Orange and the Wikimedia Foundation. Orange and the Wikimedia Foundation are partnering to provide access to the mobile version of Wikipedia without any additional costs since April 2012 in 10 languages in Uganda and since September 2012 in all languages in Ivory Coast.
The project is aimed at the five million active mobile phone users in the Ivory Coast, who intentioally use their mobile phones for communication, education and information gathering.
The Ivory Coast is divided into nineteen regions, with the regions being divided into 81 departments. The official capital of Ivory Coast is Yamoussoukro (295,500), the fourth most populous city. Abidjan, with a population of 3,310,500, is the largest city and serves as the commercial and banking center of Ivory Coast as well as the de facto capital. It is also the most populous city in Frenchspeaking Western Africa. There are ten major cities: Abidjan, Abobo, Bouaké, Daloa, Yamoussoukro, Korhogo, Man, San Pédro, Divo, and Gagnoa.
There are an estimated 22,4 million people in Cote d’Ivoire (July 2013 est.). Ethnic groups include Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (includes 30,000 Lebanese and 45,000 French) (2004). 77% of the population are considered Ivoirians. They represent several different peoples and language groups. An estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country. One of the most common is Dyula, which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population.
Uganda is famously known for having more mobile phones than lightbulbs. The project is aimed at the 8 million mobile phone users in Uganda. The majority of which actively use their mobile phones for communication, education and information gathering.
Uganda is divided into 111 districts and one city (the capital city of Kampala) across four administrative regions. The districts of Uganda are divided into 146 counties, one city council, and thirteen municipalities. The ten largest cities in Uganda are Kampala, Gulu, Lira, Mbarara, Jinja, Bwizibwera, Mbale, Mukono, Kasese and Masaka.
The population of Uganda is estimated at 34,758,809 (July 2013 est.). Uganda is home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom forms a majority of the population. The population of Uganda consists of: Baganda 16.9%, Banyakole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6%.
The project is aimed at activating the participation of 12-70 year olds within communities in specific countries across Africa. The additional audience is the wider local and national community, as well as global viewers with an invested interest or curiosity in the community.
Participants in the project are loosely defined to include schools, retired or elderly members and community groups (arts, heritage, photography, etc.), as well as local shops and local businesses, that can be involved by providing discounts or prizes for events.
The Kumusha Take Wiki programme will create a suite of knowledge creation and dissemination interventions, held online and via mobile in dual languages - English and French, that will truthfully reflect the multiplicity and layering of information specific to and about communities across Africa.
The community’s involvement will increase wider skills development particularly in international marketing for their community, included, but not limited to:
The project is structured in a modular format to allow for scalability and to facilitate institutions and people to become promoters of it. Wiki Loves Africa is specifically designed to appeal to countries beyond this specific project. If the project is successful, funding will be sought to develop the entire project, or facets of the project, in other locations across Africa. The follow-up of the project will roll out over 2 new phases (one phase per year), with increasing number of countries turned on each year. The countries that have been isolated as recipients of this project are: Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (DRC), Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda.
October 2013 - October 2014 (12 months).
This project is co-funded by Orange Foundation (2013). The initial project proposal can be found in the article history. The initial proposal included Challenge WikiAfrica Mobile Game.
A project promoted by the Africa Centre.
A project was conceived by Florence Devouard and Isla HaddowFlood (WikiAfrica, at the Africa Centre) in 2013. The project and all its documentation is under Creative Commons attribution sharealike licence.
Stakeholders and activators
Project management by WikiAfrica at the Africa Centre. WikiAfrica is an international collaboration between the Africa Centre and Lettera27 that encourages individuals and organisations to create, expand and enhance online content about Africa, its history, its people, its innovations and its many contemporary realities, on the world’s most used encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. It is under the auspices of WikiAfrica that this project will be conducted. Stakeholders of the projects:
Other initiatives in Africa