SWiP Workshop Emphasises Essence of African Languages

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SWiP Workshop Emphasises Essence of African Languages

SWiP Workshop Emphasises Essence of African Languages

The SWiP project in collaboration with the Department of African Languages and Culture at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) hosted a successful two-day Wikipedia workshop. Themed “Preserving Languages and Open, Free, and Accessible Knowledge for All,” the workshop provided a theoretical overview of Wikipedia while also offering practical training on how to create, edit, translate and contribute content on Wikipedia.

SWiP, which is short for SADiLaR-Wikipedia-PanSALB, is a collaborative initiative by the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), Wikipedia, and the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). The project is aimed at promoting all of South Africa’s indigenous languages online. It does so by bringing together communities of indigenous language users and giving them the skills to create and review content on Wikipedia. In doing so, communities can collectively increase their respective languages’ digital footprint online.

Professor Zanele Buthelezi, Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and lecturer in the African Languages and Culture Department, extended a hearty welcome to academics, professional staff and students who attended the workshop. She emphasised the value of training and skills-transfer. She added that training is one of the best ways to increase knowledge and expressed optimism for the African Languages Department’s progress.

“Our indigenous languages must be promoted, encouraged, and be used in critical ways,” said Prof Buthelezi.

She urged the workshop participants to make an effort to share the knowledge and skills they had learned throughout the training with their peers. The information provided benefits the next person and does not harm the original acquirer; thus, she encouraged people to keep the flame burning.

The SWiP workshop was facilitated by Bobby Shabangu, President of Wikimedia South Africa., owing to a serious lack of online presence when it comes to South Africa’s indigenous languages.  “The main SWiP project’s objective is to empower anyone who is interested in contributing content to Wikipedia in their own language; and, ultimately, to promote and preserve our indigenous languages and protect them from disappearing over time,” expressed Shabangu.

  • Phamele Mlaba

Picture: James Thwala