Engaging African Cultural and Creative Industries to Advance the African Narrative on Wikipedia

“Upper Iweka Movies” by Nwabu2010 CC BY-SA 4.0.

Learn how the AfroCine Project inspired a partnership with The Africa Narrative and how you can apply to be the Wikimedian-in-Residence for this project. 

The “Identify Topics for Impact” Movement Strategy recommendation calls on us to address the key topical gaps on Wikimedia platforms. As a result, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Campaigns Team and Partnerships Team have developed a partnership with The Africa Narrative (TAN) in order to address Wikimedia knowledge gaps related to contemporary African culture. TAN is a non-profit that develops singular, high impact initiatives in support of African creatives and the African cultural and creative industries with the aim to strengthen capacity in the continent’s creative economy and global visibility of African cultural soft power.

But this is far from the first effort to grow Wikimedia coverage of the African creative sector. In fact, TAN’s work will intentionally build upon, and seeks to directly support, existing community efforts in this space, such as the AfroCine Project. AfroCine is a unique African-led project that focuses on growing the corpus of knowledge of African, Caribbean, and diaspora cinema, theatre, and arts through the Months of African Cinema campaign. The project’s vision is “to bridge the huge content gap and improve on the systemic bias, in respect of the African continent, by getting real African stories and viewpoints into the mainstream.”

In a similar vein to AfroCine, TAN, which is dedicated to supporting African creatives and the African cultural and creative industries, aims to advance the African narrative by strengthening content about African culture on Wikipedia in the area of film, but also fashion, literature, art, photography, music and other creative sectors. By creating networks and platforms, TAN aims to support and augment the work of AfroCine by organizing contributors across Africa, changing the narrative at the regional level.

“Shooting a Nollywood movie in Awka” by Nwabu2010 CC BY-SA 4.0.

To organize this work, TAN has developed the AfroCreatives WikiProject to raise awareness and increase the use of Wikipedia within the film industry and recruit filmmaking creatives to curate content and amplify their advocacy through Wikipedia. 

“Fashion Africa Seminar – Nairobi Launch” by myndzcommunity CC BY-ND 2.0

Changing the narrative with the support of professionals in the filmmaking and creative space is crucial to AfroCine. According to an organizer at AfroCine, “Our hope is for the AfroCreatives Project to provide a new springboard for other new editors from other areas. When we have access to people in the industry who can give access to large datasets, archives, and players in the GLAM scene, that would be huge.” 

The goal of the AfroCreatives Project is to create other complementary opportunities to recruit new audiences to grow participation in the AfroCine campaign and provide industry access to personalities, institutions, and other stakeholders.

“Our emphasis on engaging industry stakeholders is intentional,” stated TAN’s Founder, Michelle van Gilder, “because their insight, knowledge, and commitment will enhance the content about their creative industry on Wikipedia.” In addition, this project will help AfroCine and others in the African community to engage difficult-to-reach audiences, professionals, and data repositories

“Hugh Masekela – R.I.P. January 23, 2018” by Professor Bop CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In recognition of this work, TAN is receiving support to create a Wikimedian-in-Residence role at TAN, which will  develop Wikimedia strategies for TAN, and continue to foster the relationship with AfroCine organizers. In addition, TAN is committed to working closely with the broader African Wikimedia community to advance contributions from filmmaking and other creative industries professionals, access resources and data repositories, and brand awareness opportunities.

The organizers are committed to supporting this initiative in an advisory capacity to help it advance the recommendations in the movement strategy. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Campaigns Team, Partnerships Team, and AfroCine are working towards growing knowledge from the African continent by leveraging the experience, expertise, resources, and, more importantly, the passion of professionals in the filmmaking and creative industry. 

TAN is now seeking a Wikimedian-in-Residence from the African Wikimedia community to work with the organization for 18 months. The role involves organizing editing and training workshops for newcomers from TAN’s professional networks of African filmmakers and creatives and Wikimedia planning groups in Africa. A fundamental part of the role is to develop partnerships with key players in the filmmaking and creative industries to leverage those relationships to advance the work of the African community. Of course, the Wikimedian-in-Residence will also take on the exciting role of building relationships with AfroCine and the Wikimedia Community in Africa. If this is you, APPLY NOW!