Wiki Indaba 2023: Enriching Experience in Agadir, Morocco.

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I was very excited when I saw my name on the list of those that will be sponsored to attend Wiki Indaba 2023 by the Igbo Wikimedians User Group as one of the top editors of the year 2022. The reality struck me more when I received the invitation to attend the Conference at Agadir in Morocco; I did not know what to expect. I am just but an editor in the Igbo Wikimedians User Group (my community User Group) and I saw this as an opportunity to connect with other editors from other Wiki communities across Africa. Indeed, the knowledge I gained from the number of days it took me to prepare for the conference and the number of days I spent at the conference was far above my expectations.

An image to celebrate the sponsorship to Wiki Indaba 2023 at Morocco

My Journey to Indaba

On 2nd November 2023 to be precise, I set out on my journey for Agadir. I was filled with the hope and excitement of meeting and connecting with people from different African countries and different parts of the world. Attending my first Wiki Indaba conference was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience. Having been a member of Igbo Wikimedians User Group for a few years now, I had heard about the annual gathering of the Africa Wikimedia community but never had the opportunity to participate until this year’s event which was held at the scenic seaside city of Agadir.

Touching down in Morocco, I was greeted with the characteristic warmth and hospitality of the Moroccan culture. I was immediately struck by the beautiful sunset, the seaside city with its beaches, lively markets with a mix of Arab and European influences. The conference venue at the Les Dunes D’ior was world-class, with modern facilities along the scenic coastline.

The Conference and knowledge I acquired

Days passed very quickly. In a flurry of presentations, sessions during the Wiki Indaba conference dug deep into everything from increasing African representation in Wikimedia to bridging gender gaps. These sessions tackled everything from increasing African representation in Wikipedia to leveraging Wikidata to preserve intangible cultural heritage. For me, highlights of the event were those sessions focused on equipping young girls with digital skills, led by dynamic women like Stella and Joy. Strategic planning for User Groups was also thought-provoking, demonstrating ways we can grow local Wikimedia communities.I learnt a lot from presentations on bridging knowledge gaps on Wikipedia and using Creative Commons licenses. The insights from experienced African Wikimedians like Kemi, Obiorah, Jocelyn and others were invaluable.The campaign tools session with Georges, Euphemia, Essenam, Lucy, Juliet and Aristide was quite engaging. Collaborating to improve our outreach gave me new ideas to bring back to my local user group. I enjoyed sharing my experience as a participant who used this great tool to register for the event. Another inspiring moment was the Open Knowledge Journalism Awards, recognizing exceptional work in open knowledge and Wikimedia. It was motivating to see journalists honored for their contributions to free knowledge. The closing ceremony and tour of Agadir provided me the perfect finale. I am leaving WikiIndaba 2023 feeling motivated and connected to the pan-African Wikimedia community. The collaboration and knowledge-sharing at the Conference will help our movement continue to thrive across the continent.

My Cultural Experiences

Beyond the Wiki Indaba sessions, exploring Agadir with fellow attendees profoundly impacted me. We discovered vibrant markets brimming with handmade potteries and woven bags, tried harira soup, and toured the coastal Kasbah. Local Wikimedians explained their initiatives preserving Amazigh folktales and languages. Every new friend I met gave me a new hope and inspiration. I enjoyed exploring Agadir’s winding alleys, the dances at Café Restaurant Ibis Chauve, trying Moroccan tagines and mint tea, and learning about the Amazigh culture native to the region. The beach welcomed us as we played with glee and danced with the locals. The food was so amazing that I got lost in them. It was fun dipping bread in peanut butter which was quite a good combo and I was told that it is mostly taken for breakfast.

The People

The people? Oh! They were so hospitable that I felt safe and relaxed all through. The driver that conveyed me from the airport to the venue pointed out places and told me more stories about Agadir in the best way he could even though he could only speak Arabic and French. I learnt about the devastating effects of the earthquake in Agadir which destroyed the city and made them rebuild from the scratch, as well as the argan tree and argan oil production which is central to Agadir’s culture and economy. Spotlight Morocco’s famous “tree of life” and the process from orchards to co-ops. It was an amazing experience.

My experiences with other attendees

I felt sad when the last day of the conference was concluded. I was sad to leave my newly found community so soon. Attending my first Wiki Indaba opened my mind to challenges and innovations happening across Africa’s Wikimedia movement. I left the conference not just with a network of innovators, but I was also motivated to continue bridging knowledge gaps from my little corner of our African continent. Attending Wiki Indaba gave me renewed optimism about spreading free knowledge globally and bridging divides. I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by Igbo Wikimedia User Group to participate and make new friends from around the world united by our passion for sharing free knowledge.

And this is my story

Returning home, residual moments stick, the sunset glow over the souks, the muezzin call to prayer echoing at dawn, and smiles worn by young refugee-activists. I traveled as an Igbo Wiki editor and returned as a Wikimedian emboldened to bridge divides of politics, language, and distance to move toward greater cultural awareness between peoples. God bless Igbo Wikimedians User Group, God bless Wikimedia Foundation!!!

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