A quick Google image search for Africa often leads to reductionist, topical and exploitative images of a monolithic continent in constant exasperation.
WikiAfrica, a non-profit organization founded in 2016 in South Africa, seeks to diversify the “unique history of Africa” that Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie lamented in her well-known 2009 TED talk entitled “The danger of a unique history”. Its founders asked:
By 2020, Africa’s community of mobile users is expected to swell to 725 million. With so many Africans being exposed to a ‘single story’ about their continent – will they, too, believe that this narrative is true?
By 2020, Africa's mobile user community is projected to have grown to 725 million. With so many Africans exposed to a “unique story” about their continent, will they too believe that this story is true?
In order to “balance the type and diversity of information and perspectives” from Africa online, the organization has held since 2016 a continental-wide photography contest called “Wiki Love Africa”, in which photographers are encouraged to contribute Africa-related media to Wikimedia on a specific topic; this year the theme is transportation, to capture the widest range of moving images of Africa.
On Wikimedia, with 18 billion visits and almost 500 million visitors a month, there are very few acceptable images about Africa or that are sent from Africa. “Most of the content related to Africa was written by publishers who are not related to the continent,” explains WikiAfrica. Moreover, the content providers of Wikimedia are “in the great majority men, young people and from the northern countries of the world”; half are under the age of 22, and about 91% of editors are male, according to Wikimedia.
Between February 15 and April 15, 1904 participants submitted 16,982 media files with content related to Africa from 53 countries. The winners received a prize money by decision of an international jury. These images were viewed approximately 3.1 million times in June 2020 alone.
Here are the award-winning images of Africa in motion in 2020:
First Prize: “My Homeland” by Mohammed Yousry, Lake Burullus, Egypt
Second Prize: “Bread Distribution by Bicycle”, by Abd Elhamid Fawzy Abd Elhamid Tahoun, Egypt
Third prize: ‘” Chaos ”by Summer Kamal Eldeen Mohamed Farag, Alexandria, Egypt
Traditional Culture Award: “Salt transport with a camel caravan in Ethiopia”, by Olivier Siret, Lake Assale (Karum), Ethiopia
Most praised: “You and I”, by Mohamed Hozyen, Egypt
Most Praised: Kelly Bissue's “Rush Hour”, Accra Market, Accra, Ghana
Most praised: “Crazy Cavalcade”, by Ewien van Bergeijk, Kwant, Senegal
Most praised: “Khartoum, African Highway Tunnel,” by Mohammed Abdelmoneim Hashim Mohammed, Khartoum, Sudan
And the award-winning video, “The lagoon transport in Abidjan made by Bouba Kam's”, by the filmmaker Aboubacar Kamate:
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX7N0T_J4As (/ embed)
In addition to the overall winners, the national teams also identified the winners by country.
For example, the Tanzania team announced their winners on Twitter:
Team Tanzania announces their Wiki Loves Africa winners! 1st prize is for A transportation van at sunset by RahimMngwaya; 2nd place goes to Makunduchi, Zanzibar by Erasmus Kamugisha and 3rd to African Sport utility vehicle by Rasheedhrasheed. https://t.co/mpu5P6uCQ4 pic.twitter.com/IcWPFY9GsF
– WikiLovesAfrica (@wikilovesafrica) June 11, 2020
Team Tanzania Announces Winners of Wiki Love Africa! The first prize goes to “A Van at Sunset” by Rahim Mngwaya, the second prize goes to “Makunduchi, Zanzibar” by Erasmus Kamugisha and the third prize goes to “An African Sport Utility Vehicle” by Rasheedhrasheed.
The Ghana team announced their local winners:
Team Ghana has announced the Ghana winners for Wiki Loves Africa 2020. 1st prize to Africa's Coastal Transport by User: Wisdom Kwesi Mensah Abekah, 2nd prize to Train In Accra 004 by User: NanaYawBotar and 3rd to Transport hors gabarit by User: Cyriac Gbogou https : //t.co/8dmgbY4djr pic.twitter.com/XJJLzVK0Hs
– WikiLovesAfrica (@wikilovesafrica) June 23, 2020
The Ghana team announced their local winners of Wiki Love Africa 2020. The first prize is for “Coastal Transport of Africa” by user Wisdom Kwesi Mensah Abekah, second prize is for “Train in Accra 004 ″ by user NanaYawBotar and third prize It is for “Large cargo transportation” from the user Cyriac Gbogou.
And Wikimedia Nigeria announced its first award for the photo titled “Sailing Against the Tide”:
@Lick is the overall winner of the just concluded Wiki Loves Africa 2020 in Nigeria with his photo titled, Moving upstream. CCBY-SA4.0. The gift was presented by proxy to one of his friends in Lagos. Https://t.co/nXnzqzKFHW@WikiCommons @Wikipedia @Wikimedia @wikilovesafrica pic.twitter.com/0CZLEWkbIc
– Wikimedia Nigeria (@WikimediaNG) July 30, 2020
Amaninjos is the overall winner of the recently concluded Love Africa Wiki 2020 in Nigeria with his photo titled “Sailing Against the Tide”. CCBY-SA4.0. The gift was presented by proxy to one of his friends in Lagos.
“Africa is many things, not just one”
Activists, writers, students and photographers have worked hard, especially in the last 10 years, to diversify content and combat negative narratives about Africa online; however, colonial and racist narratives persist through images that dominate with just a few clicks of the keyboard.
Africa is clearly not just your despair, but it's not just your wealth or past either. When American singer Beyoncé recently released her visual album, “Black is King,” there was a major backlash to her reductive depictions of Africa that perpetuate narrowly imagined fantasies of the continent.
The South African writer Pababllo Chauke disagrees with this “corrective representation,” that is, “showing Africa only as 'better' through a capitalist lens.” In his essay “Black is not king, queen or peasant – black is complex” Chauke writes:
Africa is many things, not just one: We need to treat it with complexity.
Africa is many things, not just one: we have to deal with it with complexity.
“Motherlandization” (something like earthmaternalization) is the term that Chauke uses to describe the “conscious or not, open or secret, intentional or unintentional process of African Americans to idealize and reduce Africa to a“ monolithic, frozen and fixed homeland ”that serve their points of view; they treat it as a repository for their use and consumption ”he writes.
By encouraging more free source photos of Africa in all their complexity, WikiAfrica hopes that:
(T) ruthful information, correctly placed on a platform that is open and accessible to all, can fundamentally change how people both within and outside Africa view and interact with the continent.
Truthful information, properly published on a platform that is open and accessible to all, can fundamentally change how people, inside and outside Africa, view and interact with the continent.