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AfroCuration sees youth edit Wikipedia in indigenous languages

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The Moleskine Foundation, in partnership with Constitution Hill Trust, is running the WikiAfrica Education project, a series of five AfroCurations where young people from various African countries will create and edit Wikipedia articles in their own official languages.

United by the theme “Who we are”, AfroCuration events are cultural and inspirational experiences where participants are empowered to create knowledge about their culture and identity, redressing the historical bias and taking ownership of the digital narrative.

The AfroCuration series is supported by non-profits Wikimedia Foundation and Fondazione Aurora.

As 2021 marks Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary, it is the world’s 13th most visited website; however, the online encyclopaedia suffers from a dearth of information about Africa, according to the Moleskine Foundation.

As part of the Wikipedia edit-a-thon, young people from SA, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Morocco will learn how to tell the stories of their lives, culture and history in their own languages through Wikipedia.

The event, which takes place today and tomorrow, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, brings together volunteers from the IsiZulu, Sesotho, Tshivenda and Afrikaans-speaking communities.

They will be writing and editing Wikipedia articles about many marginalised African stories of women and men across time, race, class, gender, sexual orientation and other social identities who contributed immensely to the liberation of SA and the making of its Constitution.

According to a statement, the event builds on the success of the first AfroCuration edit-a-thon in early September, where more than 60 participants contributed the first Wikipedia articles in Emakhuwa, a language spoken by an estimated 12 million people in northern Mozambique.

The participants created 60 articles during the event and continued editing weeks afterward. As of 19 October, 171 articles in Emakhuwa had been created, amassing more than 11 000 views.

“Many of the challenges South Africa faces today are due to our lack of knowledge and understanding of the events of our past,” says Vanessa September, CEO of Constitution Hill Trust.

“Until this history is widely accessible, we will remain stuck. Our partnership with the Moleskine Foundation allows us to work with young people in a creative way to amplify the unknown stories and people of our Constitution on a global platform like Wikipedia.”

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organisation that pursues a mission of “creativity for social change” by implementing a set of educational programmes that unlock the creative potential and develop a change-making attitude in youth.

The Constitution Hill Trust is a public-benefit organisation established in 2006 to promote SA’s Constitution and support the development of the Constitution Hill Precinct, as a heritage site which symbolises the constitutional democracy of SA.

Adama Sanneh, CEO of Moleskine Foundation, adds: “By transforming young Africans from passive knowledge consumers to active knowledge producers, we are addressing two of Wikipedia’s most significant gaps – the lack of contributors from Africa and the lack of content about Africa.

“It is estimated there are currently more Wikipedia articles on France than Africa as a whole. In fact, not a single African language has more than 100 000 articles on Wikipedia. Our goal is to change those numbers by steadily expanding knowledge about Africa, as told by Africans, one Wikipedia entry at a time.”

To date, the WikiAfrica Education initiative has generated over 40 000 Wikipedia contributions in over 18 languages, says the Moleskine Foundation.

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