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New ‘edithon’ event aims to make Emakhuwa language-page mainstream on world’s largest encyclopaedia

Ethale Publishing and Moleskine Foundation, together with Fondazione Aurora and Universdade Ruvuma, are again bringing together 60 participants to drive the growth of the Emakhuwa section on Wikipedia. Under the continued theme ‘Who We Are’, the objective is to give a digital voice and a tool for knowledge-creation to seven million Emakhuwa speakers in northern Mozambique. 

In September 2021, Moleskine Foundation and Ethale Publishing held an event with more than 60 participants to launch the world’s largest encyclopaedia – Wikipedia – in the Emakhuwa language. 

“I used to feel ashamed to speak my language in public places,” says Palmira Albertino Revula, 24, one of 60 participants who took part in the September 2021 inaugural Afrocuration ‘edithon’ – organized by Moleskine Foundation and implemented locally by Ethale Publishing – to create the first-ever content in the Emakhuwa language on Wikipedia. “Now I know I no longer need to feel stigmatized because of who I am.”

The 200-plus pages created in the last 7 months have already received more than 10,000 views. The project was commended by the WIkimedia Foundation as one of the three fastest-growing new-language projects on the continent.

“The Afrocurations are experiences that serve as moments of shared culture and knowledge. They create a platform for inspiration, empowerment, creativity and activism, allowing young Africans to reclaim their own narratives,” says Adama Sanneh, CEO of Moleskine Foundation. 

Students, professors, journalists, academics and Emakhuwa-language enthusiasts will participate in the second ‘Afrocuration’ at Universidade Ruvuma in Nampula, and online via Zoom, on April 29th and 30th. The objective is to reach a total of at least 300 articles in Emakhuwa/Macua on Wikipedia. This would allow the section on Wikipedia in Emakhuwa to graduate from the incubator phase where it currently resides. 

At least 74 non-African languages have more than 100,000 articles on Wikipedia, including Latin, a dead language, and Latvian, the language of a nation of 3 million people. More than 750 million people live in Africa. “Multilingualism is the oxygen of culture,” acclaimed Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o told Ethale Publishing in 2019. Yet not a single African language has more than 100,000 articles on Wikipedia.

To remedy this imbalance Moleskine Foundation launched a series of ‘AfroCuration’ events in 2021 to create Wikipedia content in African languages that is culturally relevant to the continent, with the support of Fondazione Aurora. Five live editing sessions – AfroCurations – were held as part of Moleskine Foundation’s WikiAfrica Education project in 2021-2022 in several African nations: The National Gallery of Zimbabwe worked on ‘Reclamation of Cultural Heritage’, while in South Africa, local partner Constitution Hill worked on content around the theme ‘Women protagonists in the struggle for freedom’. 

“The project is called ‘Who We Are’ because we hope that Wikipedia in the Emakhuwa language will be a hub for Emakhuwa people to learn about their culture, as well as the worlds',” says Jessemusse Cacinda, co-founder at Ethale Publishing. “We are only creating the first 60 articles in Emakhuwa. The hope is that thousands of Mozambicans will take up the baton and publish many more.”

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