A couple of months has passed since the Wiki Entrepreneurs who came from Malawi and Ethiopia for #OpenAfrica14 returned to their countries. Michael Phoya from Malawi updates us on the progress made in introducing to the world of Wikipedia to a country of over fifteen million inhabitants.
Michael Phoya is a vibrant young man of many talents known to us as Muti (black magic). He started to write his first book when he was 20 years old. This was after his under graduate studies in Business computing at the Malawi Polytechnic. He made a three year trip around Malawi collecting the information for his first book.
Michael explains the current flow of success: “Although the pace is definitely much too slow; one of the main problems is red tape. Things at associations or company can only move when the top guys have given the green-light.”
Despite this bureaucracy Michael has made substantial progress. For instance, on 25th of April Michael was honoured to be a guest at a symposium organised by the Book Publishers Association of Malawi in collaboration with Copyright Society of Malawi. The aim was to commemorate World Book and Copyright Day. Later at the event, Michael discussed the status of Wikipedia in Malawi with Victor Chikoti, the Communications Lecturer at the Malawi Polytechnic. After which it was agreed to set up an official meet on how to activate journalism students of the Malawi Polytechnic.
On Tuesday the 29th of April, Michael managed to deliver a one-hour talk titled ‘WikiAfrica: Sharing using Wikipedia’ to the monthly meeting of the Society of Malawi, using Isla Haddow-Flood’s presentation. At there well attended presentation there were lots of questions, but it also confirmed Michael’s fears: that not many in Malawi, including expatriates, are very familiar with Wikipedia. Definitely more outreach programmes are needed.
During the talk, he highlighted a provisional plan for the Society of Malawi to donate some of its content onto Wikipedia, as well as activate other organiations and association to develop these articles and content on Wikipedia. The talk was successful. Arrangements are now in progress to sign a Memorandum of Understanding sometime this week. In addition, a teacher from Saint Andrews (an international school located in Blantyre) suggested that they meet sometime next week to discuss how best to introduce his students to Wikipedia.