Unfortunately I missed the FLOSS conference in Pretoria, but there’ve already been two writeups about it that I’m aware of.
A Tectonic article, Wiki-ing into Africa, and a Wikimedia conference report. The conference sounded great, particularly the discussions around distributing Wikipedia, legal terminology and Wiktionary (to assist the courts in dealing with translating the 11 official languages) and E-learning in general, and Wikibooks and Wikiversity in particular, relating to the high cost of textbooks here. I’m really sorry to have missed it. It would have been a good chance to meet up with others interested in the same field.
There was a conclusion of particular interest to me. From the Wikimedia report:
It was felt there would not be enough literate people with access to computers and sufficient knowledge to make versions such as Zulu and Xhosa into useful resources. This as after mentioning that only the English version is actively being distributed to schools at present.
I agree that the Afrikaans Wikipedia is not yet much of a resource, and the other SA languages barely begun, but that’s not to say they will never be useful. With internet access rolling out rapidly, it’s not impossible that translation alone will be able to get them to a usuable level, particulary if creative means are employed to start with, such as using schools to translate existing nglish articles. The pace of change and growth may be much slower, and it’s doubtful that they will ever be more than a subset of the English version, but that’s not a problem. There’s no need to devote the same energy that English contributors have to the Star Trek and Simpsons articles, for example. But translating South-African topics, as well as key international topics, should be sufficient to get a usable resource.