You might think of Wikipedia as a tool for researchers or the internet's chief purveyor of random trivia. But for many people, it's a place to search for more information about the media they're consuming on the internet and through their TVs.
Now, imagine a world where those searches yielded no results.
This is the reality for many of Wikipedia's readers in Nigeria and Africa more broadly, and when Wikipedia's coverage of pop culture has gaps, crucial entry points for new readers remain closed. "Wikipedia articles about African and Nigerian films are typically created long after they are released," volunteer editor Sam Oyeyele says. "By then, most people have already seen them and any enthusiasm to read about them has significantly dwindled." In fact, out of all the film articles on the English Wikipedia, less than 1% are about African cinema.
For the last six years, Sam Oyeyele has been working to address this pop culture gap. He wrote a series of articles on the history of Nigerian cinema, and he's now running AfroCine, a project aiming to fix both historical and contemporary content gaps in African and Caribbean cinema. This is one way Wikipedia works: people with a passion for a specific topic donate their time to closing the many gaps we have yet to fill.
In 2018, AfroCine organized a global event to motivate people to write about African cinema, resulting in close to 600 new Wikipedia articles in ten different languages, a nearly 4% increase. It's efforts like these, along with viral advertising produced in partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, that has led to a 71% increase in the number of people in Nigeria who have heard of Wikipedia.
The Wikimedia Foundation is continuing to support the growth of content and contributors from Africa. For example, we're investing in the expansion of code developers in Africa, funding the development of new standardized keyboard software in three Nigerian languages, and in 2018 we hosted our major annual "Wikimania" conference in Cape Town, South Africa, with the theme of "bridging knowledge gaps."