A lot can be said about the just concluded Wiki Indaba 2023 and while we acknowledge the numerous grievances over things that didn’t work well or those that could have worked better; we choose to focus on the good and amplify some of the success stories from the conference.
Wiki Indaba was established as a convening to bring African Wikimedians together to connect, learn and enhance collaboration.
There were some great and insightful conversations at Indaba 2023 that whether you are a veteran, a newcomer in the movement or attending Indaba for the first time felt empowering and thought-provoking!
The Afrika Agenda tracks, for instance; were a great reflection of just how far we have come as a region; giving us hope that we are finally moving from “talking to actioning”.
“Thanks to my previous involvement in Afrika Baraza, I felt confident participating in important discussions despite being new to the conference. Through my participation in this forum, I had already been exposed to topics such as the Movement Charter, UC4C, and the Africa Agenda. As a result, I was well-equipped to engage in meaningful conversations and contribute to the conference.” Terry Boke – Wikimedia User Group Kenya.
“The inception of the Africa Agenda can be linked to conversations initiated at Wiki Indaba 2022 in Kigali and subsequently formalized during the Afrika Baraza in 2023, utilizing an inclusive and collaborative approach. This involved extensive discussions conducted through a variety of online and in-person sessions, spanning both Wiki Indaba and Wikimania. The agenda underwent thorough examination through an open and transparent consultation process, resulting in the emergence of a unified voice from the diverse communities in Africa.
The learnings from this process highlight the collective commitment of fellow Wikimedians from Africa to address challenges within the Wikimedia movement, whether as a community or as individual contributors. Special recognition is extended to those who conceived the idea of Wiki Indaba, as this annual gathering has played a pivotal role in laying the foundation for this transformative journey.’’ Derrick Ndahiro, Founder and President Wikimedia User Group Rwanda
The Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards was the Icing on the cake for most of us who attended Wiki Indaba. The Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards served as a remarkable addition to the Wiki Indaba event for many of us in attendance. It underscored the importance of fostering collaborative and meaningful relationships with members of the fourth estate, while also recognizing their contributions towards enhancing the credibility of our work as Wikipedians. The award recipients demonstrated how journalists play a pivotal role in enabling us to create reliable content by citing and referencing their published work in our Wiki articles. Moving forward, we must strive to empower and enhance their capacity to ensure that they remain integral to our efforts in narrowing the content gap in Africa.
“As they say, One good turn deserves another. The Open the Knowledge Journalism Awards, serves as a platform for recognizing and rewarding distinguished African journalists who have helped to contribute to the evolution of Wikipedia and its sister project through their creative works, showcasing our continent’s rich cultural, ethical, and professional diversity. This initiative highlights the collaborative potential within the African community and underscores the significance of working together towards a common goal.
We now have over 2000 articles that can be used as resources that our community can draw on in creating articles on Wikipedia. In doing so, they can help editors demystify prevailing misconceptions and Eurocentric bias about Africa, and help contribute to a more accurate and inclusive representation of African narratives globally.
Beyond content enhancement, the project has played a pivotal role in introducing professional journalists into our Wikimedia community, so that they are able to understand how their work can help us to grow knowledge on Wikipedia.
In summary, as a community, we believe that the Open Knowledge Journalism Awards celebrates journalistic excellence and strengthens our collaborative efforts toward fostering a more comprehensive and diverse representation of African knowledge. We appreciate this initiative’s positive impact on our community and look forward to continued collaboration in the future”._Olushola Olaniyan, President and co-founder, Wikimedia UG Nigeria
Diverse representation of women and youth
Wiki Indaba 2023 stood out for its remarkable embrace of youth participation in various capacities. For the first time, WikiVibrance shared the opportunity to participate in person and held its first physical meet-up with the dynamic youth organizers steering the youth community throughout Africa. They had a spotlight in the Africa Knowledge Initiative (AKI) session sharing insights from organizing the Africa Youth Month 2022 campaign alongside young African Wikimedians within the movement.
“In this collective experience, WikiVibrance found itself in the company of several young Wikimedians participating in person for the first time, including individuals such as myself, Bukola James, Lucy Iwuala, Juliet Onyeike, and others. WikiVibrance also brought in other first-time participants such as Francesc Fort from Northwestern Europe. Witnessing the involvement of emerging African communities, including those from Comoros, Gambia and Madagascar, was a source of joy. The vibrancy of these fresh voices resonated throughout various sessions, spanning topics like the campaigns tool, the Regional Grants Committee, Let’s Connect, and beyond,” Euphemia Uwandu – WikiVibrance
Noteworthy was the infusion of gender-related discussions and recognitions in a novel and impactful manner. Fascinating were the gender voices that shared interesting experiences ranging from Alice Kibombo’s session on personal data and the Wikimedian to Joy Agyepong and Stella Agbley’s exploration of equipping young girls with 21st-century digital skills.
The diverse representation of youth, women, and new participants significantly enriched conversations surrounding the Africa Agenda and Wiscom charter. These were not mere dialogues where African Wikimedians listened to one another; rather, they served as forums for self-reflection, allowing African Wikimedians to comprehend the pivotal roles they must assume in advancing the African agenda.
Leaders in our movement have also been asking for recognition and seeing a longstanding Wikimedian, one of our own Alice Kibombo from Wikimedia User Group Uganda, who has mentored so many librarians to becoming Wikimedians was celebrated during the “Wiki Celebrate” moment, this was a great encouragement to so many of us.
Alice in her acceptance speech confessed that she was on the verge of saying goodbye and exiting the movement quietly; but the recognition, which was quite timely renewed her spirit; serving as an encouragement that her efforts were not in vain; they are seen and celebrated!
A clear testament to the power of hard work and perseverance and a challenge for us all to keep pushing forward, stay focused, and continue putting in the work.
There was also an inspiring session on ‘Nurturing female leadership’ that pricked our conscience to be more intentional about how we are paving spaces for women to lead in the movement. We got to hear the unique challenges that female volunteers in the movement face and how they mitigate them.
Aspirations for future Indaba(s)
“Wiki Indaba ought to serve as a forum that wholeheartedly embraces authentic diversity and acknowledges the contributions of its community. It should be a space that allocates room for the inclusion of youth, women, and new contributors, providing an environment where they can join and draw inspiration to flourish within the movement.”Euphemia
What is a mission without a plan?
“First, I would love to commend the 2023 WikiIndaba organizing team for their efforts in putting together the conference this year. However, as a community, we must decide in a clear-cut plan, what the future of WikiIndaba should be. It is nice to learn about the WiSCom charter that is being put together. It would be great to see the charter inculcate a detailed plan for the future of the WikiIndaba conference.
It’s heart-wrenching to see some people who really deserve the WikiIndaba scholarship miss out on getting it. The plan regarding the future of WikiIndaba must clearly define who deserves the scholarship for instance; is it for Africans? Is it for people who run projects in Africa? Must the two criteria be met? Is there a quota for newbies? etc.
The plan for the future of WikiIndaba must decide if hands-on workshop sessions are a priority for the conference or not. It was awesome, for instance, to see Michael Graaf’s hackathon session on the 2023 Indaba program, but due to inadequate planning and support, the session had serious setbacks when it was time to execute. Such hands-on capacity-building sessions should be determined if they’re important to the aims and objectives of the WIkiIndaba conference or not. And if they are a priority, they should be supported efficiently”. Ceslause Ogbonnaya – Igbo Wikimedians User Group
As African Wikimedians, WikiIndaba is ours to curate based on our needs as a community, so, let’s do that with a laid down plan.
Regional Movement Communications Support Commendable
As we talk about impact stories from Indaba, we cannot afford to overlook the commendable support of our regional specialist- Winnie Kabintie. Through her selfless dedication, she has provided unwavering support to individual Wikimedians, and various affiliates, and has had a significant impact on the region.
We acknowledge and celebrate Winnie’s instrumental role in kickstarting the Afrika Baraza, which has been instrumental in amplifying our grievances and advocacy for change in the systems as a community. Her efforts have also led to the creation of meaningful connections with relevant foundation staff, making it easier for us to navigate the system and access the support we need. Overall, Winnie’s positive impact cannot be overstated. Her tireless efforts have helped to foster a more supportive and collaborative community in the region, and we are truly grateful for her continued support and contributions.
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