Wikimedia Foundation launches campaign to promote access to free knowledge

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Crazy Love by Ewien van Bergeijk-Kwant (Wikimedia Commons)
Crazy Love by Ewien van Bergeijk-Kwant (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Built around collaboration and access for all, Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopedia. 
  • Wikipedia is collaborating with South Africa’s creative community to promote access to information. 
  • The campaign will play out through local writers, filmmakers, fashion designers, visual artists and thought leaders. 

Every year, 28 September marks International Day for Universal Access to Information. To celebrate this, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operate Wikipedia, is collaborating with South Africa’s creative community to launch a campaign aimed at promoting everyone’s right to access, create and share information.  

For the next four weeks, Wikimedia Foundation will release multimedia content created by South African writers, filmmakers, fashion designers, visual artists and thought leaders.  

Drawing from the South African context, the Wikimedia campaign aims to show South Africans an avenue to address inequities in accessing and sharing knowledge. It invites them to join the free knowledge movement and contribute to building the cultural and linguistic representation of South Africa on Wikipedia.   

Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopedia. Built around collaboration, the encyclopedia allows anyone, anywhere to add well-sourced, neutral content to the site.  

Aligned with Wikimedia’s  goal to break down the social, political and technical barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge, the campaign also aims to draw attention to the South African stories, contexts, history and experiences missing from Wikipedia. 

“Access to knowledge and information in South Africa has too often been limited by class barriers and divided along racial lines,” said Khanyi Mpumlwana, the creative director of Wikimedia Foundation. “Through this campaign, we want to show all content creators across the country that knowledge can take various forms and that we can all play a part in its creation.”  

One of the world’s most visited websites, Wikipedia is written by more than 280 000 volunteer contributors. Unfortunately, only 1.5% of  the contributors are based in Africa. As a result, Wikipedia articles are missing perspectives from Africa; history written about Africa is being documented by people in other regions of the world. 

“When more people from diverse backgrounds collaborate on Wikipedia, they move us closer to achieving our vision of ensuring our projects reflect the diversity of knowledge from people, cultures and languages around the world,” added Anusha Alikhan, Senior Director of Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation. “South Africans have a role to play in shaping this global resource, telling their own histories, and creating content about South Africa by South Africans.”  

Some of the collaborators participating in the campaign include:  

Monde Gumede - filmmaker who will create a short film about how misinformation fuels panic and social divide in a South African social and digital context. 

Zayaan Khan - multidisciplinary ecological thought leader who will provide a socio political perspective on how we navigate natural environments.     

Kabelo Kungwane - storyteller behind The Sartists who will develop a knowledge sharing series around culture and fashion in the country.  

Amogelang Maledu - art practitioner, interested in popular culture, who will share a video essay reflecting her work on sound cultures in Southern Africa and their influences. 

Khensani Mohlatlole - writer and video essayist who will unpack themes in South African popular culture. 

Ridhwaan Suliman - mathematician and Twitter influencer who will illustrate the importance of accurate information, and how information is distributed in a pandemic. 

Zandi Tisani - filmmaker who will create a short film about the history of African film, and how we have come to consume or create content.  

To showcase the participants’ efforts, Wikimedia is collaborating with cultural intelligence agency, Bubblegum Club where the inform. To learn how to get involved in the Wikimedia South Africa chapter, visit here. To follow the campaign, search the hashtag #WikipediaByUs. 

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