West African Indigenous Language Community Program

October 13, 2022

Sadik Shahadu, West African Indigenous Language Coordinator

In 2020-2021, Art+Feminism piloted an indigenous language initiative with Thérèse Ottawa and I to support our ongoing work in the Atikamekw and Dagbani languages on Wikipedia as the inaugural Art+Feminism Indigenous Communities Ambassadors. Since then, the program has been modified to support indigenous language Wikipedia communities in West Africa by providing mentorship and capacity-building training to individuals and affiliate groups working to support smaller and low-resourced language Wikipedias in West Africa. The program also seeks to launch a West African language support fund where community members can access microgrants to organize Wikipedia language-specific programs in their communities. Read more about the launch of the Dagbani Wikipedia here

During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, I hosted several online and offline activities to engage language communities such as the Dagbani, Gurene, Twi, Moore, Tyap, and other communities in Ghana and Nigeria. 

Outside of the Wikimedia communities, I have also been involved in several women’s empowerment programs hosted by the Assistance Hub, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, and the Linux Accra User Group. 

Wikimedia Language Diversity Hub 

In 2021, I was invited to serve on the steering committee of the proposed Wikimedia Language Diversity Hub. Wikimedia Norge first floated the idea of a language diversity hub during a November 2020 affiliate strategy meeting, and the idea has gone through several iterations to reach its current state. 

From the post-conference survey at the Arctic Knot Wikimedia Language Conference, I joined the steering committee to gather a list of suggestions as to what functions community members would like to see in a Language Diversity Hub. Read more about the survey responses here

The Launch of the Tamale College of Education Wiki Hub in Tamale

On August 14, 2022, I joined the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group to launch the TACE Wikipedia Hub on the Tamale College of Education’s campus. Participants learned about the Dagbani Wikipedia, Art+Feminism, and the Wikimedia Foundation with the help of Mr Iddrisu Alhassan Sibdow, the Hub’s patron. 

On August 27, 2022, we hosted another training on Dagbani orthography for Dagbani language students at the Tamale College of Education. The training was led by the patron of the TACE Wiki Hub. The following workshop, which was held on September 17, similarly aimed to familiarize students with Wikipedia and its sister projects while also guiding them through some fundamental editing techniques and the Dagbani Wikipedia interface.

Group photo of Dagbani Wikimedians.
Achiri Bitamsimli, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom 

Early this year, I was pleased to have been selected to participate in Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom, the Wikimedia Foundation’s flagship teacher training program that seeks to help both educators and students develop vital media and information literacy skills for the 21st century.  

As one of the certified trainers for the 3rd cohort (2022), I went through 3 months of intensive training to become a certified Wikipedia trainer by learning more about:

  • How information is produced
  • How to access and evaluate content online
  • How to understand biases and knowledge gaps in the information they consume.

The Dagbani Wikipedia Saha Tele-education Program

On January 22, 2022, I submitted a rapid grant application to pilot a new tele-education program dubbed Dagbani Wikipedia Saha, to wit, “Time with the Dagbani Wikipedia.” Dagbani Wikipedia Saha is a tele-education pilot program to recruit volunteers and train more people to contribute to Wikipedia. The program is an initiative by myself and the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group in collaboration with Sagani TV, a northern-based digital TV station. We have just started season two of the Dagbani Wikipedia Saha. Learn more about the program here.

Rukaya Hamidu on set for Dagbani Wikipedia Saha
Shahadusadik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Software Freedom Day 2022

Last month, in September 2022, the Linux Accra User Group invited me to discuss Wikipedia and Art+Feminism campaigns in Ghana. Participants of the session were some members of the Linux Accra community, OpenStreetMap Accra, and students from the University of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Journalism. At the end of the session, participants were taken through Wikipedia account creation and the five principles of Wikipedia. 

Sadik introducing students to Wikipedia at the 2022 software freedom day workshop in Ghana.
Shahadusadik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimania 2022

As a steering committee member for the Language Diversity Hub, I co-facilitated a session with Mali and Jon at Wikimedia Norge to present a short video introduction to the Language Diversity Hub and the ongoing research project. On the second day of Wikimania, I co-hosted another session with Jon on behalf of the Language Diversity Hub to provide a status update and the preliminary research results.

In addition, I presented a video update on the Dagbani Wikipedia Saha at Wikimania. 

I also co-presented a session with Amanda at the MHz foundation titled: “Reimagining Curation through Open Knowledge,” where we talked about how open knowledge and open access movements enable curatorial work to happen in new ways. 

Also, I led the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group to co-organized Wikimania 2022 with the Gurene and Moore Wikimedia communities. Read more about this: Dagbani Wikimedians User Group holds satellite Wikimania events in three phases with its sister communities.

Wiki Indaba 2021 

During the Wiki Indaba conference 2021, I facilitated a session with other Wikimedians from the Dagbani, Igbo, and Hausa communities, including Mohammed Sadat Abdulai and Mahir Morshed from the Abstract Wikipedia team, where I shared updates from the Wikidata lexicographical data project that I am currently leading with the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group. Watch the session here.

Movement Strategy Grant Research Project

The first proposal for Movement Strategy Implementation Grants was approved. The study began in May and will conclude in December 2022. The study’s goal is to collect and analyze data from various sources about the challenges that new and upcoming Wikipedia editions and their communities face.

Updates on the Wikimedia Language Diversity Research Project

As a steering committee member and contact person for Art+Feminism on this research project, I was assigned the role of a research lead for Dagbani, Gurene, Igbo, and the Nigerian Pidgin English communities. As of the time of writing this publication, I have completed four interviews from the Dagbani Wikimedia community and three from the Gurene Wikimedia community. More updates coming soon for Igbo and Nigerian Pidgin English!

Sadik interviewing a participant on behalf of the Wikimedia language diversity hub.
Shahadusadik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Introduction to the Tyap Wikimedia Community

The Tyap Wikimedians User Group is a smaller language Wikipedia community based in Nigeria, working to support Tyap Wikipedia. As one of the participating communities in the West African language program at Art+Feminism, I continue to engage the leadership of the community by sharing and connecting with other communities like the Dagbani Wikimedians user group’s activities. Thanks to the leadership of Kambai and his team, the Tyap community gained user group status, and the Tyap Wikipedia is now a full-language Wikipedia. 

Launch of the Gurene Wikimedia Community 

Having successfully led the Dagbani Wikimedia community to get the Dagbani language out of the incubator, the community was also granted a user group status thanks to the support from the Dagbani Wikimedia community leadership. 

In July 2021, I met Daniel Abugre during one of our Wiki Loves Folklore Photowalks in the north. We discussed the possibility of starting the Gurene Wikimedia project as one of the 16 Mole-Dagbani languages. We organized a meeting to discuss the matter officially with other Gurene language speakers. Soon, the Gurene Wikipedia incubator was launched. After a series of workshops, the community translated 100% of MediaWiki’s most commonly used messages. 

Since 2021, the community has organized five Wikimedia projects, including Translate Wiki, the Feminism and Folklore Challenge, the Wiki Loves Folklore Contest, the Celtic Knot Conference, Wikimania, and the WikiVibrance campaign. 

Sadik meeting with the Gurene Wikimedia community in Tamale.
Shahadusadik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Launch of the Moore Wikimedia Community 

On January 3, 2022, I launched the Moore Wikimedia community project as part of my efforts to incubate all the 16 Mole-Dagbani languages on Wikipedia. The event was attended by eight Moore language speakers from Tamale, Bawku and Kumasi, where most of the Moore community is based. At the launch of this project, participants were introduced to the Moore language Wikipedia incubator and It was also an opportunity to share more about Wikimedia and the Wikimedia Foundation and the importance of contributing to Wikipedia in their language. 

At the end of the session, participants were introduced to each other and learned more about how they could contribute to the Moore Wikipedia incubator. 

Since then, the Moore community has been engaged in a series of translate-a-thons and has completely translated 100% of the most commonly used messages on MediaWiki. In addition, I supported them through 3 rapid grant requests: Wiki Loves Earth, Translate Wiki and WikiVibrance edit-a-thons campaigns. 

Wikipedia Content Translation tool demo in Dagbani 

After successfully graduating from the incubator, the Dagbani Wikipedia needed some facelifting to improve the quality and quantity of articles on the newly approved Dagbani Wikipedia. On July 17, 2021, I co-hosted a series of content translation workshops for the Dagbani community with Amir from the Wikimedia language committee.

Below is one of the episodes I hosted:

Art+Feminism Community Office Hours

During the COVID-19 restrictions in Ghana, I volunteered to host a series of community office hours on behalf of Art+Feminism to continue to engage members of the Dagbani Wikimedia community. 

In 2021, I hosted two community hours titled “Wikidata, Lexemes and minority languages” and 

Wikipedia Pages Wanting Photos.” 

Arctic Knot Conference 2021

In June 2021, I co-presented a session with Mohammed at the Arctic Knot conference titled: “Dagbani Wikipedia Bachinima” to share more about how I helped the Dagbani Wikimedians user group to produce and upload over 4,000 audio pronunciations of unique Dagbani words on Wikimedia Commons. Read more about the project here

The Pag Dede program 

At the launch of the 2nd edition of Page Dede at the Tamale Technical University in Tamale, I was invited to speak to female university students about Wikipedia and Art+Feminism, and how they can contribute to Art+Feminism campaigns in their schools. I started by introducing myself as the West African Language Coordinator for Art+Feminism and telling them about my journey as a Wikipedia contributor. At the program’s end, participants could create their own Wikipedia account and make their first edit on Wikipedia.