“Photography continues to play a key role in how we are seen, not just as Africans, but as black people from every corner of the world. Stereotypes and prejudice are incited by images, and if it’s used, yet again, to undermine those of us who are truly doing the difficult work, then we need to have some uncomfortable conversations.“ 

— Aida Muluneh, Ethiopian photographer,
The problem with photojournalism and Africa, Al Jazeera, 2017

Wiki Loves Africa is an annual continent-wide competition that shifts the visual narrative of Africa by encouraging people to contribute Africa-relevant media (photos, video or audio) relevant to an annual theme.

Status: Active

Wiki Loves Africa is one of the largest annual photographic contests in Africa that continues to challenge the visual narrative of Africa. At its heart, Wiki Loves Africa is a drive for Africans to document Africa. Both amateur and professional photographers and filmmakers are called to share the world that they view every day; life recorded and observed from within their own communities. Their contributions form a collection of royalty-free images about Africa, a continent that is often subject to a condemning external gaze and many subsequent stereotypes.  

Since 2014, Wiki Loves Africa has spearheaded alternative ways to support 9,200+ photographers as they share their view of ‘Africa’ and change how the world views the continent they live on. Its success is remarkable given that World Press Photos reports only 2% of annual submissions are from Africa.

Over 72,300 images have been submitted by Africa’s photographers since the start of the annual competition. These images have a life beyond the competition. The images are placed on Wikipedia articles to add a visual and African perspective, and thus the collective library of open-licensed images have been viewed 787 million times since 2016; with 23 million views of the images in July 2021 alone. 

In addition, Wiki Loves Africa assists photographers and community organisers through training and mentorship support.

Over the last 7 years, Wiki Loves Africa has achieved the following:

  • Over 72,300 images have been entered by 9,269 competitors from up to 55 countries under a free licence (CC-BY-SA) ;
  • The images entered to Wiki Loves Africa are viewed 23 million times each month (July 2021);
  • Wiki Loves Africa’s images submitted over the 7 years have been viewed 787 million times (July 2021) altogether since Jan 2016;
  • Wikimedia communities from 24 African countries have hosted over 300 participation events, information sessions and training workshops since 2014;
  • A Wiki Loves Africa winning image was included in the Journeys Through Our Fragile Heritage exhibition at the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris; and 
  • Wiki Loves Africa’s ISA tool was the winner of the WikiData award for Best Multimedia Tool in November 2019.

Each year the contest is held, it has had a different theme that is universal, yet culturally rich. Winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process that involves the final decision of an independent international jury that is made up of professional photographers from Africa and experienced Wikimedia Commonists.

Past Wiki Loves Africa competitions:

  • 2021 : Health + Wellness:
    The theme Health + Wellness encouraged the submission of visual representations of healthwellness and can include representations of traditional or western medical interventions or personnelhealthy eating, or exercise etc.  8,319 images and 56 video files that were contributed by 1,149 photographers.
    View the winners for 2021. View the Jury report here.
  • 2020 : Africa on the Move:
    The theme encouraged the contribution of images and media representing movementmigration or transportation, whether local or regional, by path, road, sea, or air, self-propelled, or by animal, natural or mechanical means. just under 17,000 images submitted to the competition by 1,904 photographers.
    View the winners for 2020. View the Jury report here.
  • 2019: Play!
    The Wiki Loves Africa 2019 photographic competition has resulted in 8,879 image uploads to Commons around the theme Play! Photographers were encouraged to submit visual representations of joyful and serious games, sport, and recreation in the form of board or mental games, physical fun or contests, playful interactions, theatrical and musical performances, etc.
    View the winners for 2019.
  • 2017: People at Work
    18,294 images were uploaded to Commons and entered to the competition to represent the theme People at Work.

    View the winners for 2017.
  • 2016: Wiki Loves Africa Music and Dance
    Nearly 7,917 image were entered to the contest via Commons to promote Africa’s rich heritage and culture expressed through music, song, dance, and movement.
    View the winners for 2016.
  • 2015: Wiki Loves Africa Cultural Fashion and Adornment
    Over 7500 image were uploads to Commons to promote Africa’s rich culture of dress and fashion, especially that defined by local cultural influences, including cloth, styles, and ways of wrapping and hanging, etc. Entries covering adornment were also requested, including culturally defined jewellery, makeup, hairstyles, cloths and woven materials.
    View the winners for 2015.
  • 2014: Wiki Loves Africa Cuisine
    Over 6000 image uploads to Commons documented the diverse cuisines across the continent of Africa, the theme encompassed foods, dishes, crops, husbandry, culinary art, cooking methods, utensils, food markets, festivals, culinary events, famine food and any other issues related to cuisine on the African continent.
    View the winners for 2014. 

Each year’s project runs for two months at the entire continental level. However, some specific actions, such as training and communication, are held in some countries with national organisers. Wiki Loves Africa is activated by the Wikimedia community that created Wikipedia in support of the WikiAfrica movement. The competition was conceptualised and is managed by Florence Devouard and Isla Haddow-Flood of Wiki In Africa as a fun and engaging way to bridge the digital divide by rebalancing the lack of visual representations and relevant content that exists about Africa on Wikipedia.

This project started due to funding from the Orange Foundation (2014) and receives ongoing support from the Wikimedia Foundation. It is supported in-kind by UNESCO and a host of local partners in individual countries. The images donated are available for use on the internet and beyond, under the Creative Commons license CC BY SA 4.0. 

Explore this project in more detail: