There’s a current proposal to close the Xhosa Wikipedia for lack of activity, so I thought it’d be a good time to see the progress of the African and South African language Wikipedias.
Heading the list of African-language Wikipedias by article count, Malagasy is still racing ahead in creating new articles, mainly thanks to articles automatically created by bots. These articles aren’t always ones that you’d imagine would be high priority. There are currently over 200 galaxies with their own article, some with broken templates, for example the one on the NGC 953 elliptical galaxy in the constellation Triangulum. But no article on Nelson Mandela, or Omer Beriziky, the prime minister of Madagascar.
So it’s a somewhat artificial indicator, but there is still a reasonable level of activity, and it would be interesting to measure whether bot-activity helps encourage human activity.
Second is Yoruba, where the huge burst has slowed (again, many are bot-related, and the first random article I clicked on was minor space body 3011 Chongqing), but there’s still steady progress. Afrikaans in third continues well, and is probably in the best shape of any African-language Wikipedia. After being overtaken by Swahili, it has seen consistent activity, has a healthy community, and is growing far faster than Swahili.
Swahili and Amharic are still growing steadily, while Egyptian Arabic is growing quickly, and is on track to pass Amharic. Of the others with more than 1000 articles, only Kinyarwandahas has stalled, while Kabyle and Shona have seen good growth.
So overall, in Africa, some good progress.
Of the South African language Wikipedias, outside of Afrikaans, the state is as dismal as ever. Three have actually lost articles (usually due to removing spam), while a proposal has been made to close the Xhosa Wikipedia. Xhosa is the smallest-remaining African language Wikipedia still open. A number of smaller languages have already been closed. Growth in Zulu has slowed, Venda has shown flickers of activity, while Sotho has grown by 37 articles, although it’s still second-smallest, ahead of Xhosa.
Let’s not forget Ndebele, which as the least widely spoken official South African language, still has no representation.
South African Language Wikipedias
Neville Alexander, a champion of multi-lingualism in South Africa, recently died, and there don’t seem to be prominent leaders taking up the mantle. While there are eleven official languages, English seems to be becoming ever-more dominant, there’s a dearth of local literature and language departments are shrinking in the country’s universities. A recent Wikipedia workshop at the University of Cape Town was co-ordinated by one of the Wikimedia South Africa board members, Douglas Scott, and in spite of being a standard lecture as part of the curriculum, not a single native-speaker turned up. The article-counts reflect this situation, so it seems unlikely there’ll be a change anytime soon.
- November African language Wikipedia update: Afrikaans passes Swahili
- April 2012 African language Wikipedia update
- Northern Sotho Wikipedia now an official project, Afrikaans reaches 20 000 articles
- African language Wiktionary update
- African language Wikipedia update
- Wolof Wikipedia reaches 1000 articles
- Swahili Wikipedia now the largest African-language Wikipedia
- The state of Wikimedia projects in South African and Africa – Dec 2008
- The South African Wikimedia communities
- Venda Wikipedia Progress
- First Wikipedia Academy in Africa
- Wikipedia Week
- Afrikaans Wikipedia hits 5000 articles