WikiIndaba 2023: A First-Timer’s Perspective

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Tales from WikiIndaba

I am a member of Igbo Wikimedians User Group (IWUG). IWUG gave me the wings to fly and catch up with my dream of one day attending the WikiIndaba conference! Through a sponsorship from the Igbo Wikimedians User Group, I had an incredible opportunity to attend the WikiIndaba Conference which was held from 3rd to 5th November 2023 – a conference that brought together Wikimedians (like myself) from across the African continent to discuss and plan the future projects within the Wikimedia movement – a mind-blowing experience it was. I was truly inspired and enriched to be surrounded by so many passionate and dedicated individuals who are committed to advancing free knowledge and open access to information. During this conference, I became accustomed with novel ideas and experiences through the workshops, presentations, and discussions on topics that cut across community building, content creation, and the future of Wikimedia projects in Africa. It was an opportunity to learn from experienced Wikimedians, exchange knowledge, and ideas, and connect with like-minded individuals who share a common or similar goal of advancing knowledge equity and empowerment in Africa..

My Knowledge about WikiIndaba

I never knew how large the WikiIndaba conference was until I participated in this edition. With already piqued interest and curiosity I got to learn the origin and beginning of the WikiIndaba and what made it unique to the African Wikimedians. Through the brief overview shared at the opening ceremony, I got to know that the WikiIndaba Conference is the regional conference for Africans both within and in the diaspora with the first edition held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2014 by Wikimedia ZA.

Delving deeper, I discovered its uniqueness to the African Wikimedians – the fact that it is the largest gathering of African Wikimedians (for African Wikimedians) hosted annually by the African Wikimedia Community on African soil – each edition, an embodiment of unique and distinctive contents and usually attended by not only the African Wikimedians in diaspora but also, individuals and organizations whose mission aligns with open knowledge goals. I deemed myself lucky to have been a part of this Edition.

The Theme of WikiIndaba 2023

In my quest to understand the theme “Empowering Africa”, I observed that it took into consideration the African Wikimedians’ empowerment and development – there was intentionality in the selection of conference sessions, the speakers, and other activities. They all veered towards enhancing an atmosphere which encouraged discussions of the place of African Wikimedians in the global space and the means through which they can leverage on opportunities and resources to help empower them in fostering sustainable development and growth. The mind-inspiring sessions, panel discussions and so many other activities that sparked lots of reactions challenged us to engage in many insightful conversations and discussions bringing about the exchange of novel ideas and knowledge. Merely looking at the faces of these fellow Wikimedians I could attest that a seed of empowerment was sown.

The WikiIndaba 2023 Chain of Activities

Going through the conference booklet, I understood the activities of WikiIndaba which focused on bringing together Wikimedians from across African continents to discuss and collaborate on various topics related to Wikimedia projects, free knowledge movement, community building, and capacity development and empowerment of the African Wikimedians. All these formed part of the conference activities and was depicted through series of workshops, panel discussions, presentations, and social gatherings. I also observed that these activities aimed at promoting the growth and development of African Wikimedians and Wikimedia projects in Africa. I was indeed inspired to strive for better options and results within and outside the Wiki space. I had the opportunity to add my input in the conference activities by co-presenting in some of the sessions, sharing insights and ideas as captured in the following:

Grant Session: A session filled with information on the WMF Grant, funding programs and understanding the funding type according to the proposed project. This session also took into consideration the impact of the outcome in a given project and also discusses the Fiscal Sponsorship and it’s role in enabling access to funding. I had the opportunity to share my thought on what is considered as an outcome in the review of proposals, pointing out important elements expected to be seen and implemented in a given project.

Wiki Loves Monuments Organizers Q&A: Being on the International Team of Wiki Loves Monuments, I had the opportunity to co-present with Ciell where we shared useful information on organizing a Wiki Loves Monuments campaign for the benefit of both the National and local organizers. It also encompasses a Q&A session that invites the organizers to share their challenges and ask questions on how to proffer solutions to these challenges in their various communities

How the new campaign tools can help your Wikimedia events: Participating in a panel discussion on the newly developed campaign tool, I got to share my user-experience as an organizer in using this tool to create and register events, pointing out one of it’s usefulness in helping the participants to bypass the issue of IP Block and lessening the workload of manually adding the participants on the Program Dashboard as an organizer.

My Learnings and Take-Home

Attending WikiIndaba 2023 was an opportunity for me to physically meet and identify with the amazing faces behind the screen, to learn, unlearn, and relearn directly from them while sharing and exchanging ideas in the spirit of communion. Listening to their presentation delivered from a place of experience made me understand the commonness in our goals. One of the most impactful aspects of WikiIndaba 2023 I observed was the sense of community and solidarity that was palpable throughout the conference – never did I feel left out as a first-timer! It was truly a space where everyone’s voice was valued, and where there was a strong spirit of collaboration and support. I left the conference feeling inspired and energized, with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to continue contributing to the Wikimedia projects in my capacity. Also, I always looked forward to the tea and coffee breaks where I venture into savoring and tantalizing my taste buds with varieties of Moroccan delicacies while interacting with others on topics of food and culture. The climax of it all was the social gathering and bonfire expedition, all of which summed up to invite us to share in the rich cultural values of the Moroccan community.

Prepared for the Future

Overall, attending the WikiIndaba Conference for the first time was a transformative experience. I returned home with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper connection to the global Wikimedia community. The conference empowered me with the tools, inspiration, and connections needed to continue making a positive impact on Wikimedia projects and communities. I am already looking forward to attending future WikiIndaba conferences and continuing to be a part of this incredible movement for free knowledge. I arrived at WikiIndaba 2023 as a novice, but I went home with lots of ideas and insights that have rejuvenated me to dare for more challenging and result-driven engagements on WikiSpace. I am now wiser than I was. Indeed, the future has come!

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