Africa in Wikipedia

  • A hotel in Banani, painted for the tourists, Banani, Mali 1990.
    Wouter van Beek (CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons).

Africa is underrepresented in Wikipedia. Every small town in the Netherlands or the UK has an extensive Wikipedia entry, but several mega-cities in Africa have a Wikipedia article consisting of no more than a few hundred words. Wikimedia Commons, the photo database of Wikipedia, is no exception, with a clear underrepresentation of images from and about Africa.

In the past the African Studies Centre Leiden has added “Africa” photographs in Wiki. The 'anthropological' photos from Sierra Leone in the 1930s by Professor Sjoerd Hofstra are popular because of the Poro connection, and the photographs by Roel Coutinho (Senegal and Guinea Bissau in the 1970s) are frequently used because they contain rare photographs of the liberation movement in the field and photos of the first president and prime-minister of Guinea Bissau in informal settings.

Recently, the ASCL has added several collections of Africa photographs to Wikimedia Commons. Hans Muller, Wikipedian in Residence with the Leiden African Studies Assembly (LeidenASA), added hundreds of photographs to Wiki from several collections:

These images are now freely available for anyone to use, and will be followed by other photographic Africa collections in the next months.

Jos Damen, ASCL Library