Preserving Information about African Minority Ethnic Groups: The Edo People Example

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Africa is known as a continent that has ethno-linguistic diversity, with over 3000 ethnic groups spread across the 54 countries that make up the continent. However, majority of these ethnic groups are considered minority groups due to their population and territorial size. As a result, they are often marginalized by some of the larger culture and groups, leading to cultural extinction in some cases. Also, ethnic identities among many minority groups have continued to be on the wane as a result of the Western influences on the African culture.

As many of these `minority` groups continue to battle for cultural survival, there is need for the documentation of information about these groups so as to help preserve their culture for posterity sake, and also for educational and research purposes.

The Edo people example

The Edo people are widely known to be native of the ancient Benin Kingdom (located in the Southern part of Nigeria). The people are known for their rich cultural heritage which include vibrant oral tradition, arts and craft, and bronze making. However, accessing information about the Edo people has been difficult to find over time, as information about the group have been published mainly in print format with limited circulation, thus, limiting access to the information.

The few information available online lacks the required sources to verify the content. This influenced the decision to document information about the Edo people in the Wikimedia space, so as to facilitate access to verifiable information about them. The documentation was done via different Wikimedia activities such as Photo walks, Write-a-thons and Edit-a-thons.

Photo walk at Edo State

University of Benin Teaching Hospital Main Entrance (Photo: CC by S.A 4.0)

The photo walk in Edo State was organized to document notable landmarks, structures, institutions and buildings with encyclopedic value located within Edo State. At the end the photo walk, over 300 high quality photos from the region were uploaded in Wikimedia Commons, out of which, over 250 images have so far been used in different Wikipedia articles about the state.

Edo History Write-a-thon

Group Photo of Participants of Edo History Write-a-thon (Photo: CC by SA 4.0)

In a bid to document Edo History in Wikipedia and help close the Wikimedia Knowledge gap, the Wikimedia community in Edo State organized series of write-a-thons. The write-a-thons focused on expanding existing Edo related Wikipedia articles and creating new Wikipedia articles about the Edo people. During the exercise, over 200 Wikipedia articles were created/improved in the Wikipedia while many other articles are still being improved in draft. This is in addition to over 350 references added to Edo related Wikipedia articles.


Edit-a-thon at Igbinedion University Okada (Photo: CC by SA 4.0)

Aside photo walks and write-a-thons, series of trainings and edit-a-thons have been organized across different universities within the state. This include Wikipedia training and edit-a-thon at the University of Benin, Benin City; Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; Wellspring University, Benin City; Benson Idahosa University, Benin City; Igbinedion University, Okada and Glorious Vision University (formerly Samuel Adegboyega University), Ogwa.

Edit-a-thon at Wellspring University (Photo: CC by SA 4.0)

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