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The 2021 Wikipedia contest on African cinema ends with a bang

By Guardian Nigeria
20 December 2021   |   2:16 am
Since 2018, the months of October and November have become quite special in the “wiki-verse”- a term for the world of Wikipedia!

Since 2018, the months of October and November have become quite special in the “wiki-verse”- a term for the world of Wikipedia! These are months when the AfroCine Project organises its annual writing contest in which it invites Wikipedia editors from across the world to write and contribute content about African cinema, theatre and arts to Wikimedia projects (specifically Wikipedia and Wikidata). During these times, articles are created across different industry interests including: African films, film industries, filmmakers, actors, stage performers, and so on.

Wikipedia is the world’s largest encyclopaedia, but it also has a significant imbalance, an imbalance that mimics the real world in some way. There’s a noticeably huge difference in the level of coverage given to western subjects and topics, when compared to African subjects and topics. The AfroCine Project was founded by Sam Oyeyele as a multi-country initiative to help bridge this African knowledge and content gap on the internet, by facilitating the contribution of content that relates to the historical and contemporary cinema of African countries, the Caribbean and the diaspora to Wikimedia and other open projects. Since it started in 2018 until 2020, about 6,000 articles have been directly added to Wikipedia, with thousands more improved upon.

The 2021 “Months of African Cinema” contest just ended this November, and the goal that was set to create an additional 1,000 articles on Wikipedia has been surpassed by a huge mile, with over 4,000 articles created.

With this new milestone added to the existing statistics, the AfroCine Project has managed to directly create about 10,000 Wikipedia articles from its network in just three years. The founder of the AfroCine Project, Sam Oyeyele, who also co-founded Wikimedia Nigeria can be remembered as part of the team who designed the viral Wikipedia videos in Nigeria back in 2017. The videos garnered over 50 million views across different online platforms, and was noted to have increased the brand awareness of Wikipedia in Nigeria from 23% to 44%.

In 2020, The AfroCine Project welcomed two additional team members; Eben Mlay and Ayo Odedere, to work on the project and support its growth. The Community Liaison for the project Eben Mlay noted that the past editions of the contest have greatly impacted on the year’s success, due to the strong foundation they have created. He also noted that iterations of this contest have stayed successful because they have been “communicated effectively to reach out to the targeted audience”. In regards to the importance of the work that the AfroCine Project is doing, the contest facilitator, Ayo Odedere says: “You will agree with me that we are in a digital age, where everything is now online. Lockdown and increase in the use of social media further propelled this. The whole idea of AfroCine is to ensure the preservation of content that speaks to the African viewpoint”.

In 2022, Sam Oyeyele highlights that AfroCine will be looking at starting a new initiative aimed at exploring African countries and regions that have been underserved within the Wikimedia and Open movement over the years. The team will be working closely with the Wikimedia Foundation to shape out the best ways to develop this plan and execute it accordingly.