Ghana: Young people translate Wikipedia pages into ‘Akan’

The language also referred to by some as “Twi” is spoken in Ghana by 58% of the population. Around 30% of Ivorians also speak the language.

by Isaac Kaledzi – March 31, 2019

A group of young Ghanaians has started translating Wikipedia pages into Ghana’s foremost local language “Akan”.

The language also referred to by some as “Twi” is spoken in Ghana by 58% of the population.

It’s not only in Ghana that “Twi” or “Akan” is spoken. In neighboring Ivory Coast a significant number of people speak the language.

Around 30% of Ivorians speak the language, but there is limited material online in the language.

That means those who are proficient in the language don’t have access to vital information in their language online.

Wikipedia has huge amount of information about people, places, and events among others mainly in English.

The initiative to get articles translated into the Akan language seems crucial in making information accessible in local Ghanaian languages.

Edit-a-thon workshop

On Saturday over a dozen young people from various fields but serving as volunteers gathered in Accra to begin the first session of translation.

The participants were taught how to use a tool called Content Translator on Wikipedia to translate the English pages into Twi.

“The edit-a-thon workshop” as the organizers called it is to be replicated in April and May this year as well.

Organizers hope to get more young people joining this movement to promote the local Ghanaian languages.

This project is the initiative of the Global Open Initiative Foundation with support from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Pan-African Digital news brand, Africa Feeds Media Limited and Linux Accra User Group also supported the initiative.

The Global Open Initiative is made up of young people pushing for the “visibility of open access material, information and data”.

The group hopes this helps to solve many of the problems in modern African societies.

Making Wikipedia accessible

Organizers of the “Twi Wikipedia Tanslatathon project” say they want to “make Wikipedia accessible to people who can only speak and write in Twi.”

“We intend to use this project to recruit new editors and users of the Twi Wikipedia. We believe projects like these which help increase more online content in Twi could lead to the standardization of the Twi language,” a statement from the group said.

Next for the group according to the coordinator of the workshop, Zita Ursula Zage is to hold similar translation sessions in other Ghanaian local languages.

“The initiation and success of this project will motivate others to organize similar projects focusing on other Ghanaian languages like Ewe, Ga, Dagomba, etc,” she said.

For some of the participants it was revealing for them to join the movement with one telling Africa Feeds “I want Twi to reach the international stage”.


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