Submissions/Going to Africa

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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Title of the submission
Going to Africa
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Dror Kamir
E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Wikimedia Israel
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

An e-mail I sent exactly one year ago to Tamar Golan, then head of the Africa Center at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, created a valuable channel through which the knowledge that accumulated in Wikipedia could reach rural areas in central Africa. In the meeting with Tamar Golan and the Africa Center's staff, we realized that the language barrier, which we had presumed to be the most difficult issue, was practically non-existent. Many various languages are spoken in Africa, and yet in many of the African countries, education is provided in French, English or Portuguese, so their inhabitants are used to reading and writing in one of these languages from the age of elementary school, and often even speak it as their mother tongue. We were further informed that the Africa Center sent student delegations to rural areas of Africa every year. In the fall of 2010, Ben Gurion University students would head to Santchou, Cameroon, Songhaï, Benin and some other locations. We contacted "Hamakor Society" which collected used computers in good shape, and so the student delegations heading to Cameroon and Benin were equipped with computers on which the French versions of Ubuntu-Linux Wikipedia had been installed.

The people of Cameroon and Benin are very determined to improve their well-being, and welcome any tool that could help them achieve this end. Wikipedia turned up to be one of these tools. When two elementary school pupils asked one of the Israeli students where they could find some helpful material for their homework, he directed them to the computers on which the French-language Wikipedia was installed. The girls saw the abundance of information, and the rumor soon spread, so that on the next day, a large group of people came to the computer room in order to consult Wikipedia.

So far, the dialog with Africa is one-sided. Information is flowing to Africa but not from it. This means that we too, those who live outside Africa, suffer from serious shortage in information. The real achievement will be realized when the people of Africa start to feed Wikipedia, or similar projects, with the abundance of knowledge they possess, and which is still not available to people in the rest of the world.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)
People and Community
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  1. iopensa 12:50, 31 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]