Exquisite photographs by African photographers display Africa On the Move on Wikipedia

Cape Town, South Africa, 3rd August 2020 – Wiki In Africa, the international organisers of the 6th Wiki Loves Africa photographic and media competition, are proud to announce the international prize-winners of the 2020 competition.

The competition takes place annually and calls for submissions along themed lines. At the heart of its purpose, is a drive for Africans to document Africa. Both amateur and professional photographers and filmmakers are called to share the world they see every day; life recorded and observed from within their own communities. Their contribution forms a collection of royalty-free images about Africa, a continent that is often the subject of an external gaze and many subsequent stereotypes.

Initially intended as a month-long intervention, Wiki Loves Africa 2020 took place as the COVID-19 crisis hit Africa. It launched on the 15th of February, and the deadline was extended from 15th March to 15th April to facilitate the significant life changes wrought as the COVID lockdowns impacted each country after another.

Over the eight weeks of the competition, 1904 people contributed just shy of 17,000 images, 2 sound and 202 video files that broadly capture the 2020 theme of Africa on the Move! (transport) across the continent.  

An international jury of photographers from across Africa and Wikimedia specialists from around the world deliberated on the 16,982 images. The quality of images was a  key criterion in the selection, as was the encyclopedic value of the image, and also that it was visually arresting and well framed. Of equal importance was the quest to ensure that the unexpected was featured. As a project, Wiki Loves Africa is focused on obliterating the ‘single story of Africa’ by visually displaying the myriad of experiences that make up daily life on the continent. In this case, the thousands of images represented Africa in all its dichotomy through the theme of transport, from donkeys and potholed roads to high-speed trains, cargo and ferry boats. 

After an exhaustive jury process that lasted several intense weeks  over 4 painstaking rounds, they decided on the following winners:

Mohamed told us how he came across this image: 

“I heard a lot about the virgin islands scattered along Lake Burullus. One particular image of an island called Shakloba haunted me. It might be the stunning image I saw on Facebook or the strange name of the island. But either way, curiosity got the best out of me and my travel companions and we decided to explore the island.

“Shakhloba is one of over a dozen small, mostly uninhabited islands in Lake Burullus. The magnificent lake, the largest in Egypt’s Delta, is located in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate. Lake Burullus has a very rich landscape. It is nestled in the green fields of the Delta, bordering it from the south, with Nile’s Rosetta branch towards the east and the Mediterranean to the north.

“Fishing is very important for the local people here. The traditional boats— markebs and faloukas —are still used. Fishermen use traditional techniques (various kinds of nets) and take advantage of the reeds.

“This photo summarized the life in this place…Fishers and their homeland in a small island in Lake Burullus, Egypt.”

Abd said that his motivation to take this shot was “ because the boy attracted me for his great effort during work at midday, then I noticed the light and shadow and decided to take the shot.”

Summer is a return winner for 2020. She won 2nd prize in the 2019 contest. She took the photo during lockdown “because I like to shoot from the top when there are suitable configurations”.

Every year the contest looks for an image that represents ancient traditions within a modern context, with this in mind the following image won the Traditional Culture Prize.

The final prize goes to the new video category. The new prize category was to encourage quality video submissions to the competition. Over the years we have included media prizes as winners, but this year saw several fantastic mini-documentaries have been entered.

The video prize goes to User:Bouba Kam’s Le Transport Lagunaire à Abidjan (STL) réalisé par Bouba Kam’s that displays an unexpected element to transport in Africa by taking us on a ferry ride across Abidjan’s Ébrié Lagoon. Download link 

The winning video was chosen by the competition organisers for its quality imagery and the simple, contemporary way of sharing the journey on board Abidjan’s Lagoon Ferry.

The encouraging entries from across Africa, events were held by local Wikipedia volunteers to encourage people to contribute photographs, and share information on the specifics of Wikipedia licencing and how to upload their entries. This year, before the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, events were held by volunteers in 23 countries (including Brazil’s Afro-Brazilian community) in order to drive contribution and build Wikipedia savvy communities around the competition. These events took on the form of introductory workshops, photographic excursions and upload sessions. After COVID-19 hit, there was a concerted #stayathome #staysafe and #useyourarchive campaign that ensured people didn’t put themselves at risk to get the perfect shot.

Over the last six years, the Wiki Loves Africa contest has seen the donation of over 64,000 photographs to Wikimedia Commons for potential use on Wikipedia. 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. 2019’s theme Play! had 8,212 images entered by 1,350 people.

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 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.

Wiki Loves Africa celebrates Africa on Wikipedia every year by choosing a different theme. The 2020 theme was Africa on the Move!