Break from the seasonal activities in Cameroon

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Français : During editathon of our User Group at Goethe Institut Cameroon
Editathon at Goethe Institut Cameroon 031.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

August is period reserved for holidays at the Goethe Institut of Yaounde. It is the place where the monthly meeting (2nd Saturday of the month) of the members of the User Group residing in Yaoundé have been held for more than 2 years, we unanimously chose to take a break; break that allows us to evaluate the last season and throw the prospects for the future one.

Français : Wikimedia Cameroon User Group strategy Youth salon organized in Yaounde with TechWomen
WMCMUG Strategy Youth Salon 12.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

The season ended with the holding of five strategic shows in the cities of Yaounde, Douala and Buea where most of the community members are settled. Two Youth Shows were held in Yaounde in partnership with the TechWomen Association.

During these different exhibitions, several topics were discussed: Roles and responsibilities, advocacy, capacity building, community health, products and technologies, income generation. These saw the participation of more than 70 people (with percentage 60% of women.

The quote below summarized the multiple contributions which were made : “With the strategy2030, Wikimedia projects are immersed in the lives of Africans and Cameroonians in particular and traditions.”

The User Group remains engaged since beginning of this past season on several projects like WikiKwatt which aims to create articles with photo illustrations of the districts of the city of Yaounde in Wikipedia.

Français : Séance de travail sur les quartiers de Yaoundé au Goethe Institut
Neighborhoods in Yaounde Events46.jpg () by Gtankam, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Primary objectives of Wikikwatt were the training of members of the User Group based in Yaounde to contribute to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, the loyalty of community members and the work of structuring the community. Several of these objectives have been achieved, although much is still to be done in creation of the articles and their translations into English and German.

Français : Séance de prise de photos dans les quartiers de Yaoundé
Neighborhoods in Yaounde Events36.jpg () by Gtankam, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

During the previous monthly meetings in Goethe, several sub-groups were created which are already working against resumption in October 2019; We can cite :

  • The group which will coordinate the activities of the project WikiCiné Cameroun, il will work to list all the actors of the cinema in Cameroon, to gather the various existing sources before the production of contents according to each category.
  • The Wikikwatt group will continue its activities with photo releases in the neighborhoods of Yaoundé, the collection of sources (books, press releases, archives, …) and the creation of articles.

Français : During editathon of our User Group at Goethe Institut Cameroon
Editathon at Goethe Institut Cameroon 025.jpg () by Geugeor, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

  • A Wikidata group has been set up and especially made up of developers and computer scientists from the community; the objectives of this group are: to support the activities of the other two groups by creating Wikidata entries and training members to discover and contribute to Wikidata.

Other training courses were organized as part of the Wiki Loves Women project in Yaounde and Buea, giving several participants the opportunity to join the Yaounde group and set up a nucleus to form the basis for the meetings in Buea from beginning of the new season.

The impact of our community grew across our country last July at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications where we took part in the International Day of the Girl and World Telecommunication and Information Society Day; this has given us the opportunity to present our community as well as the various current and future projects.

English: Exhibition of User Group activities at the fair at the Ministry of Posts
User group at the fair at the Ministry of Posts 02.jpg () by User:Danielgwd, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Although we can congratulate ourselves on the commitment and dynamism observed, our community nevertheless encounters problems that weaken its functioning and its visibility through social networks and other media.

Strongly, we welcome a new season because new challenges are open to us with activities and projects that will be born in the Northern part of Cameroon.

Sharing and Connecting at the ESEAP Strategy Summit

Since returning from my first Wikimedia event, the ESEAP Region Strategy Summit in Bangkok a few weeks ago, I have been asked many times by family, friends and workmates “so, what was it like?”. And every time I (figuratively) scratch my head, wondering how to describe the unique experience of two days spent with 30 Wikimedians representing a remarkable 14 countries – that is, one or two Wikimedians from each of the ESEAP member communities (ESEAP stands for East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific).

I could tell people about the goal of the weekend: for participants to exchange stories from their Wikimedia communities and provide the movement strategy Working Groups with a response on movement strategy discussions. I could also describe the activities we engaged in: sharing stories and mapping them to thematic areas such as capacity building or roles and responsibilities on Saturday, and generating recommendations for working groups on Sunday. These discussions led us to explore a wide range of innovative ideas related to all aspects of the 2030 strategy.

ESEAP Strategy Summit Day 1 – Discussion 11 — ESEAP Strategy Summit Day 1 – Discussion 11.jpg () by Vanjpadilla, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

At times I must admit I began a session thinking “I have no idea what I could contribute here” but after listening to others and through the facilitators’ encouragement, I was generally able to find a meaningful experience to share or a suggestion to make. I was also impressed with the way people from such diverse backgrounds were able to respond to each other’s problems and experiences with meaningful suggestions. It wasn’t unusual, for example, for someone from one country to describe a need in their editing community which a Wikimedian from somewhere else had already experienced and could provide a possible solution to. For example, while discussing ways of recognising the efforts of Wikipedia editors, participants from Indonesia shared their method of providing a letter of acknowledgement from their chapter President detailing the impact of an editor’s work.

But these answers are not the whole picture. In addition to the organized activities and planned outcomes, there was much more to the event. There were new friendships, for example – I found I had much in common with the women from Taiwan, who have created a strong network of editors writing about women (their meet-ups are called “A Room of WikiWomen’s Own”), and also with the members from Australia, who wonder how to engage offline with editors in rural and remote parts of the country.

In addition, there was a generous sharing of expertise for people working on development projects. This was a particularly exciting aspect of the event for me, as in New Zealand the editing community is small, and largely unconnected, which means that there are great opportunities for community growth. I was able to spend time with Wikimedians from communities such as Indonesia and Thailand which had already been through similar growth patterns, and hear their thoughts and suggestions, and hear their responses to New Zealand’s plans. I also learned a great deal about the workings of these more developed communities and I was able to reflect on whether our New Zealand community would follow a similar development path or something slightly different.

ESEAP Strategy Summit Day 1 – Product and Tech Flipchart, Partnerships flipchart — ESEAP Strategy Summit Day 1 – Product and Tech Flipchart, Partnerships flipchart.jpg () by Vanjpadilla, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile event which provided much inspiration and insight into the movement as a whole. I definitely feel much more aware of the “big picture” of Wikimedia’s goals and strategies and more connected to communities in the region. This event was so inspiring, that since my return home from the event, the New Zealand editing community has now finalized our plans for a User Group and made an application to the Affiliations Committee for recognition. We look forward to becoming a strong group making solid contributions to the 2030 strategy.

And in terms of answering that omnipresent question of what a Wikimedia event is like, I’ve now settled on a concise New Zealand response – “awesome”!

Text by MurielMary

Strategy Salon in Conakry reflects about the future of the Wikimedia movement

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In Guinea, the Wikimedia community is just starting out. Internet access is uncertain, computer equipment is rare, few people even know that Wikipedia is editable… Despite these challenges, a small community of committed volunteers has developed in the country in order to enrich the encyclopedia’s articles about Guinea-Conakry, until it finally got recognized as “User Group” by the Wikimedia Foundation in november 2018.

Aboubacar Keita, president of Wikimedia Guinea during the National Strategy Salon in Conakry on 23 June 2019. Picture by Aboubacarkhoraa, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Now officialy affiliated, Wikimedians from Guinea have been invited to join in strategic discussions inside the Wikimedia Movement. The purpose of these discussions? Answering this truly ambitious question: how can we reach our ideal of universal sharing of human knowledge?

Knowledge Equity

“Knowledge equity” has been defined by the Wikimedian community as one of two main goals to reach by 2030. What does it mean exactly? In short, that we want social inequalities to have as little influence as possible on access and contribution to our projects.

This goal takes on its full meaning in the Guinean context. Here, contributing to Wikipedia is a real privilege. Even among the educated population, few people own a computer. “And contributing on a phone is complicated. You really need to be an enthusiast!” says Aboubacar Keita, student in sociology and president of Wikimedia Guinea.

Plus, few people know that Wikimedia projects are collaborative. Aboubacar Keita explains: “I often ask students or university teachers if they know they can modify and improve Wikipedia. They say “No, it that possible??” When I say yes, they are immediately interested in learning.” But Conakry has little resources, which doesn’t allow them to feed this nascent interest. “If we are not able to offer trainings or workshops, these persons will just forget the idea of contributing.”

National Strategy Salon in Conakry

This is the context in which Guinea-Conakry’s National Strategy Salon

C’est dans ce contexte qu’a été organisé le Salon Stratégique National de Guinée-Conakry, le 23 juin dernier à l’Université Kofi Annan de Guinée.

Participants at the National Strategy Salon of Wikimedia Guinea. Picture by Aboubacarkhoraa, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

With financial support from the Wikimedia Foundation, this event gathered fourteen volunteers in order to reflect about two thematic areas: “Roles and responsibilities in the Wikimedia Movement” and “Capacity Building”.

These themes were chosen by the group and are representative of local concerns. Guineans especially underlined the lack of stable organizations in Africa: indeed, there is only one Chapter on the whole continent, only one to benefit from annual funding. They would like to see this imbalance corrected by 2030.

Other claims stand out from their report, such as support for training local trainers, or regular funding in order to be able to have a venue with computer equipment and a decent internet access.

A second salon for youth

“The event was a success”, says Aboubacar Keita. “Everyone could share their thoughts freely, and several of our members had the opportunity to better understand how the Wikimedia Movement works.” Only drawback, “equal gender participation is complicated to obtain” in a country where gender inequalities are deep rooted in society. But two women could anyway join the group, out of fourteen participants.

Group picture at the National Strategy Salon of Guinea-Conakry. Image by Aboubacarkhoraa, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The leader of the group is otherwise very happy to have shared this moment with other free knowledge lovers. “I liked my role as a guide and I look forward to extending the discussion beyond Conakry. That is why on July 20th we will go 300km away from the capital city, to Kamsar, for another Strategy Salon aimed at Youth.”

This second event will focus on the two same thematic areas and should allow youth’s specific concerns to stand out. More broadly, it will also be an occasion to raise awareness about free knowledge among this generation, whose representatives will be the primary stakeholders of the Wikimedia Movement by 2030.

All members of the Wikimedia community are invited to take part in strategic discussions. Share your perspective and suggestions by answering to the survey conceived by the working groups: answer the survey.

You can also organize your own local or thematic strategy salons. Please contact: kstinerowe[at]