Sunday, May 04, 2008

Xhosa Wikipedia

Xhosa is a language spoken in South Africa and Lesotho by over seven million people. It is an official language of South Africa. I went to the Xhosa Wikipedia to urge people to contribute to Betawiki and found to my astonishment that a request has been made to close that project.

The proposal for closure is by one of its moderators, he is living in Europe and not a fluent speaker of the language. Nobody from Africa is currently involved in this project but considerable effort is put into finding people willing to contribute to this project.

A project without a community is dead. It may be possible to keep a project on life support when people volunteer their services. The problem is that all this well intentioned effort may be what prevents a project from taking off. What I wonder is that all the non African involvement prevents people from Africa getting a sense of ownership. If this is true, the best thing we can do is close down all the projects that are on life support. When people have to fight for their right to have and keep a project in their language, it may gain value as a consequence.
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