Collectives to give Africans room on Wikipedia

The Wikipedia movement is organizing to improve the presence of Africans on the site, both in terms of contributors and content.

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Text by: Lou Roméo Follow

4 min

How to improve diversity and representativeness on Wikipedia?

While the collaborative encyclopedia lacks articles on African and Afro-descendant personalities, collectives and communities of volunteers are forming to recruit contributors determined to change things.


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Pseudonyms are displayed one after the other on the black background of the videoconference.

Yvonne Gonzalez and Gala Mayi-Miranda are the only ones to appear in front of the camera, their background hidden by photos of African women.

This Tuesday evening, the

“Noircir Wikipedia” collective

meets on Zoom for its weekly meeting.

The two women launched, 12 years ago, this initiative to " 

fill the lack of references, articles and information on the culture and personalities of the African and Afro-descendant diaspora on Wikipédi


Today, a dozen of them are connecting to advance on improving the article devoted to the Black Panther Party, this American political organization militant for “Black Power”.

The review of the article on Jo Güstin, a writer of Cameroonian origin, is also on the program.

Anonymous, transparent, horizontal and egalitarian, the meeting follows the old precepts of the free internet, of which

Wikipedia is one of the small


We divide up the work, we discuss, we organize ourselves.

The idea came from Yvonne Gonzalez, Afro-Cuban living in Switzerland.

Tired of seeing Wikipedia dedicated to dead white men


Join us,


trumpets from the collective on Facebook


Only 1.5% of Wikipedia contributors in Africa

The modifications and improvements to be made to the articles are ranked in order of priority: urgency is given to the biographies of black women, the least represented on the collaborative encyclopedia.

On the French-speaking Wikipedia, there are in fact 

three times more articles 

relating to France alone than on all African countries.

Mirror statistics: in 2019, nearly 70% of Wikipedia contributors lived in Europe and North America, 

compared to only 1.5% in Africa.

A state of affairs that Georges Fodouop also decided to fight.

The Cameroonian co-founded the Wikimedian community of Cameroon.


It is often difficult to obtain information on Cameroonian personalities

,” explains the volunteer.

Artists, deputies, mayors… There is nothing on the internet, not a trace.

Wikipedia Cameroon has given itself the mission of filling this void.


Who will talk about us better than us? 

Since 2017, around forty members of the Cameroonian community have been recognized by the

Wikimedia Foundation

as an official user group.

Made up of contributors spread over the whole of Cameroon, including the English-speaking area, the collective is 70% female.

We owe him, for example, the biography of Cameroonian artist and director

Pascale Obolo

or that of musician

Coco Mbassi

, as well as the publication of

numerous photos


Their declension in local language, not yet on the agenda, is thought on the " 

long term

 ", according to Georges Fodouop.


I have been organizing workshops and training since 2013,”

he continues.

Who will speak better of our local languages, of our customs and traditions, of our traditions, than us?

 In the same perspective, 40 women in Benin took part in Wikipedia contribution training between November 2020 and February 2021. Communities are developing and being structured in several French-speaking African countries, led by Côte d'Ivoire.

Latin America has also joined the movement. 

Also to listen:

People without pagEs feminize Wikipedia

Diversify contributors to diversify content

Initiatives encouraged by the Wikimedia Foundation and by Wikimedia France, the association which oversees the French-speaking version of the online encyclopedia.

20% of the donations received each year are thus reserved for financing projects linked to “diversity”.

We start from the principle that the diversification of content goes through the diversification of contributors,"

explains Adélaïde Calais, diversity and francophone policy officer


In short, we believe that Cameroonians are the best placed to talk about Cameroonians.


The young woman is thus working to develop “ 

transparent and horizontal collaborations, with collegial functioning

 ” between all the “Wikipedian” structures of the Francophonie.

To continue to meet the little one crazy ambitions of this encyclopedia, that is " 



collective, online, universal, multilingual, and that anyone can edit




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