Faisal Ali's role in pioneering Ghanaian Pidgin on Wikipedia

Photo provided by Faisal Ali

Meet Faisal Ali, who is also better known as DaSupremo on Wikipedia. Since 2014, he has been working as a volunteer across the Wikimedia movement. Most recently, he started the Ghanaian Pidgin Wikipedia together with team members Maxwell Beganim (User:Xibitgh) and Stephen Dakyi (User:NanaYawBotar). The site was approved by the Language Committee in April 2023 to be made available to readers of this language.

Faisal will be managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account during the period of June 22-28, 2023 to share his story about using Wikimedia platforms to share knowledge in Ghanaian Pidgin.

Rising Voices (RV): What is the current state of your language both online and offline?

Faisal Ali (FA): Ghanaian Pidgin is spoken mostly by the youth in Ghana. Even though the language is not standardized, we in the community have developed a system where anyone can suggest how we spell certain words. The community then settles on a particular spelling. In that case, we are trying to standardize it on Wikipedia. We currently have over 600 well-written articles by volunteers in the Ghanaian Pidgin on Wikipedia.

RV: What are your motivations for seeing your language present in digital spaces?

FA: My motivation began when I saw the Nigerian Pidgin known as Naija on Wikipedia. I contacted the Nigerian lead Olushola and discussed with him how we can ‘merge’ the two languages together. He suggested there is a vast difference between the Ghanaian Pidgin and the Nigerian Pidgin, so we can develop our own on the Incubator. That was when I contacted few colleagues such as NanaYawBotar, Xibitgh and Jesse Akrofi-Asiedu (User:JWale2) and they supported the idea. The rest was history.

RV: Describe some of the challenges that prevent your language from being fully utilized online

FA: First of all, getting volunteers was a real challenge because anyone we contacted either had demands for compensation or the common one “What is in for me?” Also, getting resources for the language was a real challenge till Amir Aharoni [Senior Strategist at the Wikimedia Foundation] suggested I find resources such as a poetry, books, stories, etc. which has been written in the Ghanaian Pidgin.

RV: What concrete steps do you think can be taken to encourage younger people to begin learning their language or keep using their language?

FA: I think local languages should be taken seriously in schools because that’s our identity and culture and there is a need to preserve them. Also, we should teach the younger people our languages and speak the local languages at home with them rather than foreign languages.

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