Wiki Loves Africa is a annual public photographic contest where people across Africa can contribute media (photographs, video and audio) about their environment to Wikimedia Commons for use on Wikipedia and other project websites of the Wikimedia Foundation. The competition is organised by Wiki In Africa.
At it’s heart it is an annual competition that crowdsources photographs, videos and recordings of Africa to form an open licenced archive of materials that tells the story of Africa on Wikipedia through the eyes of its people. But it is so much more … over the last 5 years, Wiki Loves Africa has achieved the following:
- 48,466 images donated by 6213 submitters under a free licence;
- Wiki Loves Africa’s dontated images are viewed up to 15,9 million times each month (March/April 2019);
- Wiki Loves Africa images have been viewed 225,7 million times altogether (March/April 2019);
- Wikimedia communities from 20 African countries have hosted participation events, information sessions and training workshops;
- Over 200 participation and training events have been held up until 2019;
- The competition attracted high levels of new contributors to Wikimedia projects – over 80% of participants each year are new contributors;
- A Wiki Loves Africa prize-winning image was included in the Journeys Through Our Fragile Heritage exhibition at the UNESCO, Paris (organised by John Cummings, WIR at UNESCO), and
- Wiki Loves Africa’s ISA tool is a pilot project for Structured Data on Commons and the winner of the WikiData Award for Best Multimedia Tool in November 2019.
Wiki Loves Africa particularly encourages participants to contribute media that illustrate a specific theme for that year. In the first year, under the theme Cuisine, 873 people contributed 6,116 photographs. Cultural fashion and adornment was the theme for the next year, 2015, which saw 722 people contribute over 7,500 photographs. In 2016, Music and Dance contributed 7917 files from 836 people. In 2017, under the theme People at Work 18,294 photographs were entered by 2,473 people. Last year, under the theme of PLAY! 8,800 images were uploaded by 1350 contributors.
Wiki Loves Africa is activated by the Wikimedia community that created Wikipedia in support of WikiAfrica movement. The competition was conceptualised and is managed by Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood of Wiki In Africa as a fun and engaging way to rebalance the lack of visual representations and relevant content that exists about Africa on Wikipedia. The competition is supported by Ynternet.org, is funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and supported in-kind by UNESCO and a host of local partners in individual countries. The images donated are available for use on the internet and beyond, under the Creative Commons license CC BY SA 4.0.
Why Wiki Loves Africa
When Florence and Isla launched Wiki Loves Africa in 2014, there was a significant and noticable lack of images representing Africa on Wikimedia Commons. But it was also apparent that there was a lack of participation from Africa. There were hardly any African Usergroups and one Chapter in South Africa. In most countries, the wikipedians were only a handful, sometimes only one known person, sometimes no one. When there are only 1-2 wikipedians in a country, it is difficult to organise activities from scratch. As the Wikimedia Foundation has since demonstrated, awareness of Wikimedia in Africa was extremely limited. As a consequence, our goal in launching Wiki Loves Africa was not just about getting awesome pictures. It was also about:
- providing a general framework for small local groups to use to run local activities that would not be too demanding, and in the process, get more informed about, and involved in, the Wikimedia ecosystem,
- raising local awareness about Wikipedia, Commons, free licences, and the need for local culture to be seen on global platforms;
- facilitating the recruitment of editors,
- training new participants in different ways of contributing,
- and finally about getting pictures to illustrate articles.
Local groups can address the contest in the way they want, with the level of involvement they desire (and can handle). If it is only organizing one afternoon event, then so be it. Many former participants report they learned new skills from their participation.
But the contest also takes place in countries with no team whatsoever, and since Wiki Loves Africa launched in 2014 we have seen the exciting emergence of new wikipedians across Africa. In the past six years, some tiny groups grew up to become strong and solid Usergroups with lots of members and partners, and some isolated individuals are now part of a small team. And some countries with absolutely no one now host known wikipedians. Over the course of 5 years, over 220 events have been organized, and in 2020 alone, 20 country teams are officially taking part.
The central organising team have fostered the emergence of new groups and helped them to walk the path to become informed members of the Wikimedia community. There ia a strong synergy for associations to run Wiki Loves Africa. Wiki Loves Africa has been run by Wiki in Africa at the global level, but this would not have been possible without the involvement and partnership of dozen of others, in particular, the Wikimedia UserGroups in Africa. The project also got support from Wikimedia France, Wikimedia CH, Wikimedia Foundation, Orange Foundation, Ynternet.org, UNESCO, Goethe Institute and several others locally.
Wiki In Africa would like to express our thanks for the support of the Wikimedia Foundation for continued financial support since its inception, and ynternet.org for hosting the competition in 2016, 2017 and 2019. We would like to also thank UNESCO’s Unite4Heritage project with the help of Wikipedian in Residence, John Cummings, for their ongoing support on social media.
Collaborating groups in countries:
The project could not function without the intrepid volunteers and groups that host key events in their countries. The following established groups are hosting Wiki Loves Africa events in their countries in 2017.