Starting on March 20 and running through the rest of 2019, African language digital activists will take turns managing @DigiAfricanLang, a new Twitter account highlighting the role technology and the internet can play in the promotion and the revitalization of languages on the African continent. A key aim of the Twitter campaign will be to recognize the commitment of Africans who are leveraging all types of digital and online media to raise the profile of their languages and cultures online and attract a new generation of speakers.
In partnership with the Yoruba Names Project and Global Voices in Yoruba, Rising Voices will coordinate the participation in the campaign of more than 40 digital activists from across the continent , coinciding with the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
As Twitter hosts, campaign participants will share their insights and perspectives on African languages, including their history, current use in online and offline contexts, challenges and new strategies of revitalization. While technology can play an important role, it is only part of a larger contemporary context that affect the vitality of indigenous languages.
This campaign follows a similar, successful initiative currently underway in Latin America with the Twitter account @ActLenguas.
Among the previous hosts that took part in the 2019 campaign were individuals working with the Yoruba, Igbo, Swahili, and Twi languages through platforms such as Wikipedia, learning apps and games, translation projects, online dictionaries, localization of digital security apps, and other social media campaigns. See here for the initial list of participants.
Please see the schedule below for those who have signed up to share their own stories. We hope to have short profile blog posts on each “host”.
(Click on the host's name to read a Q&A blog post)
Sadik Shahadu is based in Accra, Ghana. In addition to being a co-founder of the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group, a Mozilla Open Leaders X fellow and a Mozfest wrangler for Mozilla Festival 2021, he also serves as a regional ambassador for indigenous communities at Art and Feminism. In early 2021, over 4,000 Dagbani words were recorded and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons as part of a campaign to raise the visibility of the language.
Blessing Sibanda ( @banQomania)
I am a software engineer and researcher. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science at Namibia University of Science and Technology. My research interests are in Computer Vision and natural language processing (NLP). I am part of Masakhane, where I am conducting NLP research on low-resource languages, specifically concentrating on my native language Shona. I have been particularly involved in the machine translation and named-entity recognition (NER) initiatives for Shona.