The universal human experience celebrated in Wiki Loves Africa’s photo competition on Wikipedia

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WIKI LOVES AFRICA : INTERNATIONAL WINNERS 2021

1st prize goes to the image Crazy Love by Ewien van Bergeijk-Kwant, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0. Download link

The deep resonance of our vulnerability was magnified in this year’s Wiki Loves Africa prize-winning photographs, and within the collection of winning images is a clear nod to the wonders of science and medicine and the hopes it inspires.  

Wiki In Africa (www.wikiinafrica.org), the international organisers of the Wiki Loves Africa (www.wikilovesafrica.net) challenges the global photographic community each year to respond to a call for photographs of life in Africa along a specific theme. Since the collection began in January 2016, over 72,300 images have been loaded to the platform under a Creative Commons licence and have been viewed 787 million times since.

In 2021, the Wiki Loves Africa competition called for photographers to contribute images that visually interrogated the theme of Health + Wellness within the African context but looking at the positive aspects within that sector of African life.

The 2021 Wiki Loves Africa winners across the six categories hail from six different countries. 

The 1st prize of USD1000 goes to Ewien van Bergeijk-Kwant for the poignant image of a mother’s stoic persistent love: Crazy Love (featured above). Announced alongside van Bergeijk-Kwant are the two additional winners of the top 3 prizes as selected by an independent international jury. An additional two prize categories and one Special Collection award were selected by the organisers from the jury’s long list.

The 2021 competition called for photographers to contribute images that visually interrogated the theme of Health + Wellness within the African context. 2020 was a year filled with sickness, illness and loss. The 2021 theme, chosen by Africa’s Wikipedia community, was a call to focus on the more positive aspects of the Health + Wellness of people across the continent. 

Van Bergeijk-Kwant spoke about why she took and entered this particular image: 

“My husband and I travel through West-Africa to help out at hospitals, clinics and (bible) schools; helping out technically on access to (clean) water and solar energy. This hospital is one of the sites we often visit and ‘feel at home’. I would bring my camera from time to time and wander through the hospital corridors to talk and play with some of the kids/patients. 

This image of a mum spending days faithfully sitting next to her very sick son – day in day out – just hit me. She had a certain calm and determination to her. Despite (hospital) life being hard in West-Africa, she envisioned a certain dignity and hope I could not take my eyes off.”

Ewien van Bergeijk-Kwant

One of the jury members, Benoît Prieur said about the image: 

“Crazy Love is a real artistic composition that is really successful, while being completely in the subject of this edition (health, etc.). The long wait can be seen in the image and in the gaze. The worry and hope for recovery. It’s very touching.”

The second prize (USD800) went to Malaria microscopy training (Nigeria) taken by Ozavogu Abdulsalam Khalid under contract to eHealth Africa EHA Clinics. The image was uploaded by Dr Nirmal Ravi who works at the eHealth Africa EHA Clinic in Nigeria after a training session in malaria microscopy.

“It was important for several reasons. I was surprised and amused to see her peering through the microscope with her baby sleeping on her back. The photo captures the enthusiasm for learning that I frequently see in Nigerians. They have to overcome challenges that we don’t face in high income countries, such as unreliable electricity, unreliable transportation, stifling bureaucracy, slow or absent internet, and inadequate child care as with this laboratorian. She beautifully demonstrates her resolve and ingenuity by bringing her young baby along to our free malaria microscopy training.”

Dr Nirmal Ravi
2nd Prize is for Malaria microscopy training (Nigeria) taken by Ozavogu Abdulsalam Khalid under contract to eHealth Africa EHA Clinics and uploaded on their behalf by User:Nirmalravi2. Download link

Third prize (USD500) was awarded to Gabriel Joe Amuzu, a long-term Wikipedia photographic contributor and Wikimedia community member in Ghana. The vibrancy of his image ‘Pupil’ encapsulated a simple, yet life-sustaining truth: 

“Seeing the little girl washing her hands in this COVID-19 era without anybody telling her to do so just made me understand how determined the girl is to live in this COVID -19 pandemic. 

And to not keep that action for myself alone, I took a picture of it to show to the rest of the world, so that we will all appreciate the life we are living, so we don’t die out of our recklessness. We should be willing to live a healthy life; a longer Life.”

Gabriel Joe Amuzu
3rd Prize goes to Pupil (Ghana) by User:Amuzujoe. Download link

The Traditional culture or practice prize went to Kgara Kevin Rack from South Africa for his image that captured the Giraffe Group Dance in the image Oldest Healing Dance that was captured during a trip to Botswana. Kgara Kevin Rack is a trainee Igqirha (African Traditional Medicine) on ukuthwasa to the Dlamini Clan and a wannabe Shaman: 

“I have a strong belief that all our answers lie in the natural world, including healing, from which we copy most of our philosophy, engineering, science and medicine. We are the hollow bone or channel for the spirit and ancestors that facilitates the healing forces that lie within each of us. … I have felt the power of the San Trance Healing Dance, the healing of plants and this is why I submitted this image. Traditional medicine is the foundation of modern medicine.”

Kgara Kevin Rack
Traditional Culture Prize: Oldest Healing Dance (Botswana) by Kgara Kevin Rack. Download link.

From an ancient healing practice to a daily ritual that is as old as time, yet takes place in a contemporary setting … The video prize goes to User:Bouba Kam’s Santé et Bien-être réalisé par Bouba Kam’s that follows a daily exercise routine through the streets of Abidjan. The winning video was chosen by the competition organisers for its quality imagery and the simple, contemporary way of displaying health and wellness through a daily exercise routine.

Best video was won by User:Bouba Kam’s for his Santé et Bien-être réalisé par Bouba Kam’s that documents daily exercise in Abidjan.
Download link.

Finally, the organisers are excited to announce an additional prize category that has been sponsored by Ynternet.org. The Special Collection prize (USD500) has been awarded to three photographers who together collated an exceptional photo essay depicting the everyday professional and personal experiences at the Laquintinie Hospital in Douala, Cameroon during the COVID-19 pandemic. The collection is a series of images from Max Mbakop, Happi Raphael, and Destiny Deffo, coordinated by Minette Lontsie (User:Serieminou).

Special Collection: Laquintinie Hospital in Douala, Cameroon by Max MBAKOP, Happi Raphael, and Destiny Deffo, coordinated by Minette Lontsie (User:Serieminou). Download link.

Every year, Wiki Loves Africa provides a platform for thousands of Africa’s photographers to take back the visual narrative by celebrating Africa’s cultural diversity and contemporary reality on Wikipedia. This year the competition coincides with the 20 year birthday celebrations of Wikipedia and ran from the 15th February to 30th April 2021. 

Jury facilitator, Isla Haddow-Flood, was moved by the range of experiences shown through the collection of entries submitted:   

“Almost every one of the 8,319 images and 56 video files that were contributed by 1,149 photographers display an incredible range of those precious moments that add to the delicate complexity and universal experience of living – from heart breaking pain to unfettered joy, from stoic determination to unrelenting hope, and from the necessity for sterile, clinical procedures to the wonder of a newborn’s very first breath. As a collection it is an exhaustive expression of what it is to be human, all set against a myriad African backdrops.”

Isla Haddow-Flood, Wiki Loves Africa co-lead and jury facilitator

After an initial review of all the entries by a volunteer team of Wiki Loves Africa organisers and Wikipedians, the international jury of twelve professional photographers from across Africa and Wikimedia photographic specialists from around the world considered and deliberated on the collection. The quality of images was a key criterion in the selection, as was the encyclopedic value of each image, and whether an image was visually arresting and well framed. It was equally important to unearth the unexpected. 

ABOUT WIKI LOVES AFRICA 

At its heart, Wiki Loves Africa is a drive for Africans to document Africa. Both amateur and professional photographers and filmmakers are called to share the world that they view every day; life recorded and observed from within their own communities. Their contributions form a collection of royalty-free images about Africa, a continent that is often subject to a condemning external gaze and many subsequent stereotypes.  

Through the competition’s seven editions 72,375 images have been added to Wikipedia’s media library, Wikimedia Commons, by 9,269 photographers from across the continent. The images have a life beyond the competition, with these images being placed in articles on Wikipedia, and thus being viewed over 787 million times since 2016; with 23 million views of the images in July 2021 alone.

Wiki Loves Africa is activated by the Wikimedia community that created Wikipedia in support of the 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 bridge the digital divide by rebalancing the lack of visual representations and relevant content that exists about Africa on Wikipedia. The competition 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. 

A ‘Wiki Loves Africa: Meet the Winners’ programme will take place during WikiAfrica Hour on the 3rd September 2021. More information on the live online interview here.

IMAGES AVAILABLE AT WIKI LOVES AFRICA 2021/WINNERS

Access the full press kit here.

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