A Night to Remember: Highlights from the Inaugural Nigeria Wikimedia Community Distinguished Awards Ceremony

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The Nigeria Wikimedia Community Distinguished Awards Ceremony was a night to remember as volunteers who have contributed to the Wikimedia space in Nigeria were recognized and celebrated. The event, which took place virtually on Zoom on the 20th of January at 6 pm GMT+1, lasted for 2 hours. The award ceremony was organized to inspire new contributors to be community heroes themselves and to recognize outstanding ones. The ceremony was hosted by Kayode Yusuf and Barakat Adegboye.

The night started with a welcome address by the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria, Mrs Omolayo Ogunsiji. She gave a detailed explanation about the essence of the award, stating that it is basically to inspire more volunteer editors and to recognize outstanding ones.

It’s a well known fact across the globe that when individuals/groups are committed and dedicated to a course and they put in their effort to see to the growth and development of that course, the best way to encourage their hard work is by recognizing their efforts.

Mrs Omolayo Ogunsiji

The ceremony was then livened up with a captivating live musical performance by Mario Sings, an exceptional R&B singer. The audience was enthralled by his soulful voice and the passion he brought to his performance.

Mario’s music added an extra level of excitement and energy to the opening of the event.

The awards feature seven main categories: Best New Contributor Award, Best Indigenous Language Contributor Award, Editor of the Year Award, Community Builder Award, Torchbearer Award, Best Active Network/Fan Club Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award (non-voting category).

The first award category was the Best New Contributors Award, which was presented by Alice Kimbombo, an outstanding Wikimedian from Uganda who also joined the movement in 2017. The category was won by Mercyjamb123 with outstanding contributions as she joined the Wikimedia space in March 2023 and has authored over 2000 articles on the Igbo Wikipedia.

The award recipient is a prolific contributor who started contributing to the Wikimedia projects in March 2023. With the Igbo Wikipedia as her home-wiki, she has created over 2,500 articles, an impressive feat that attests to her passion for knowledge sharing. Also  garnered over 15,000 Wikimedia global edits, a testament to her hard work and dedication. She is truly deserving of this award and a role model to many aspiring contributors.

The next award of the night was the Best Indigenous Language Contributor Award, presented by Sadik Shahadu, a Wikimedian and language expert from Ghana who contributes mainly to Dagbani Wikipedia. The award was won by Ọmọladéabídèmí99, an outstanding contributor who has demonstrated tenacity in training many others to contribute to Yoruba Wikipedia and has created hundreds of articles.

She is a linguistics graduate from the University of Lagos who has made significant contributions to promoting indigenous languages on Wikipedia and through community outreach programs. Her dedication to her work is inspiring and since joining the community in 2019, she has successfully led the University of Lagos Yoruba Wiki Fan-club, where she recruited over 70 students to contribute to the Yoruba Wikipedia. As the Yoruba Wikipedian-in-Residence in 2023, she has recruited over 50 members to the community and has been instrumental in their success through mentoring and training. She has aso created hundreds of articles on Yoruba Wikipedia. Her contributions have not only impacted the Yoruba Wikipedia but have also inspired many others to follow in her footsteps.

After this, a presentation of the Wikimedia UG Nigeria activities for the year 2023 was made, showcasing the different things the group had done in the year.

Video giving a brief summary of some of the Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria activities in 2023

The Editor of the Year Award was then presented by Alex Stinson, a lead strategist at the Wikimedia Foundation and a long-standing Wikipedia editor. He emphasized the need to contribute constructively and not just about edit accounts. He then announced Ibjaja055 as the winner as he edited constructively well and also supported campaigns to support new editors.

The recipient of an award has made significant contributions to the Wikipedia community, with a focus on creating and improving articles related to Nigerian academics and scientists. In addition to his work on the English Wikipedia, he has also contributed to the Hausa Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Commons. He has initiated the Wiki Loves Afrodemics project to promote African academics on Wikipedia. Along with his dedication to knowledge-sharing, he is also a mentor for young editors in his community. His tireless efforts to make information accessible to all deserve recognition and appreciation.

We then proceed to a poetry break by Frankincense, a member of the community.

A poetry break given by Frankincense

The Community Builder Award was presented by Mogbolahan Ajala, our partner for the Wiki Loves Lagos Project. The presenter stressed the importance of the community builder and described it as an integral part of any community. The award was won by Bukola James, an active Wikimedian who participates in a lot of community activities.

Bukola is a Community Coordinator for Code for Africa’s Wikimedian in Residence Initiatives. She promotes open knowledge and fosters collaboration within the Wikimedia community. Bukola’s passion for community building is evident in her role as a Content Campaign Organizer, where she co-organized the first WikiClimate Campus Tour in Nigeria and led the inaugural Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom Nigeria as a certified Trainer. She has provided facilitation support to other Wikimedians, guiding new editors in their journey to become fully integrated into the Wikimedia community.

The next award category was the Torchbearer Award, given to the most supportive person in the Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria. The award was won by Dr. Nkem Osuigwe, an active member of the community.

Dr. Nkem isn’t new to receiving awards. After winning the Wikimedia Newcomer of the Year in 2022, she has continued to be a driving force in the community, always ready to offer help and support to her fellow editors.
Dr. Nkem has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and she is always willing to share her insights with others. Her dedication to the community is evident in the way she inspires younger editors by sharing detailed experiences. Her positive attitude and willingness to help have made her a friend to everyone in the community, regardless of their age, education, or class differences.
Perhaps one of Dr. Nkem’s greatest strengths is her ability to diffuse conflict. She is like water, a soothing relief when tensions run high in the community. Her cool head and level-headed approach to problems have helped to create a more harmonious and productive community.

We had a cultural interlude by watching a beautiful dance performance by one of the community members named Merrit.

Cultural dance interlude

The next award category was the Best Active Fan Club/Network of the Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria, which was won by the Anambra Network for their impressive work rate as a club/network of the usergroup in 2023.

In 2023, the Anambra Network has been actively committed to promoting access to information and knowledge. They have executed a wide range of impressive projects, including their participation in the WORLD CANCER project aimed at raising awareness about cancer. Additionally, they have coordinated discussions on the Movement Strategy Implementation, actively involved in various translate-a-thons, and partnered with The Anambra State Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Agency on Digital Literacy Training for Civil Society Organisations in the state.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a non-voting category given to veteran contributors who have contributed to the Wikimedia projects for an extended period of time. It was presented by Barrister Fatai Erewunmi, the legal adviser to the Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation. The award was awarded to Olushola Olaniyan for his remarkable and extensive work as one of the pioneers of the Wikimedia movements in Nigeria.

Olaniyan Olushola is one of the pioneer in the Wikimedia movement in Nigeria. He has been a key figure in building a vibrant community of Wikimedia users in Nigeria, with many active user groups and members. Olaniyan has demonstrated a deep commitment to the Wikimedia movement, contributing his time, energy, and expertise to promote its values and principles. He has been instrumental in the formation of several user groups in Nigeria and has helped to promote the use of Wikipedia in local languages. His leadership and vision have been the driving force behind the growth and success of the Wikimedia Nigeria community. It is fitting that Olaniyan Olushola be awarded the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for all his contributions to the Wikimedia movement in Nigeria.

Jimmy Wales was named an honorary member of the Wikimedia User Group Nigeria.

A video of Jimmy Wales accepting the honorary award

The event ended with a vote of thanks by Isaac Olatunde one of the co-founders of the affiliate, who thanked everyone.

It is our hope that the award will encourage and inspire more contributions from members of the Nigerian community while its recipients continue to serve as role models and good ambassadors of the Nigerian Wikimedia Community.

The meeting ended with various songs where members danced. All in all, it was an inspiring and memorable night for everyone involved.

In case you missed it, you can watch a live recording here

Ayokanmi Oyeyemi, Wikimedia UG Nigeria

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