With input from Mermoze Adodo, Joy Agyepong, Mohammed Bachounda, Georges Fodouop, and Olaniyan Olushola
This year, Wiki Loves Earth in Africa and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly diverse. More African countries participate in the contest in 2019 than ever before, with four countries having joined WLE for the first time. So far, African local contests have helped bring more than four thousands of new free photos of natural heritage to Wikimedia Commons. We looked at the representation of Africa in this year’s contest and asked volunteers who lead local WLE competitions in Africa to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for the contest in their country.
WLE in Africa: Who, Where, and When
First, let’s take a look at who is participating in Wiki Loves Earth from Africa this year. Overall, eight countries from Africa take part in the contest in 2019. Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda make up around 20% of all 37 countries participating this year.
As this list makes clear, the presence of Sub-Saharan Africa is especially visible this year. Seven out of eight African countries participating in WLE are from this region, including all four countries which joined for the first time (Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, and Uganda).
As of June 17th, participants of these eight national competitions have uploaded almost 4,400 images. Given that the local contests in seven African countries will run until June 30th (the contest in Ghana has just ended), this number will, of course, rise significantly.
Wiki Loves Earth as an Opportunity to Show African Natural Beauty
The astonishing beauty of African nature is often underrepresented on the Internet and specifically on the Wikimedia projects, particularly in comparison with prominent natural heritage sites from Europe and North America. Thus, one of the key motivators for African Wikimedia communities to organize Wiki Loves Earth is to help show the beauty of Africa to the world.
For example, the Ghanaian team notes that “Ghana has a lot of natural heritage which hasn’t been well represented on Wikipedia. Regarded as the gateway to Africa, the country has scenic views of its forest reserves, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife sanctuaries, caves, rivers, rocks, and gardens in almost all of its regions. Hence the importance to participate in this competition as a medium to showcase the beauty of Ghana to the world”.