In September 2021, we held one of AfroCuration events in Mozambique as part of the WikiAfrica Education Initiative. In partnership with Ethale Publishing, over 70 young volunteers learned how to create and edit the very first articles on Wikipedia in the Emakhuwa language.
Jessemusse Cacinda, Co-founder and Managing Director of Ethale Publishing shared with us a touching testimony about his experience during the event
Afrocuration with Macua creators is one of the greatest experiences of my life
By Jessemusse Cacinda
Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ethale Publishing
I was born and grew up in the north of Mozambique being educated into Macua culture and its values. The majority of what I know about the Macua culture, history and stories I received through my grandparents and other elders within the community and not from schools.
In our culture, all men are our fathers and all women are our mothers, that’s why they can give lessons and correct all children in the village. And also participated in Masoma ceremony, the initial rites that symbolizes the passage from the childhood to adulthood. It was in this environment that I became who I am.
At school we were prohibited to speak Emakhuwa, the most spoken language in Mozambique and also, they were no lessons about Macua culture, history, heroes and monuments. Controversially we studied in schools baptized with names of the heroes from the south region of this southern African country such as Ngungunhane, Maguiguane and others.
When I was studying Philosophy and History at University, I realized they were a lot of Macua leaders who resisted against the Portuguese colonial occupation such as Farelahi, Mussa Quanto, Khupula Munu, Queen Naguema, Queen Opakila, Queen Nuno Fatima and others, but none of them deserved pages in the schools books and a name of a school, street or other public spaces. All about them is written in the monographies by academics and catholic church missionaries, but not in the school books and programs.
I joined Alex Macbeth’s journey co-founding Ethale Publishing because I was interested in promoting African narratives as a whole mission, especially those narratives that have been marginalized in the history. Those marginalized narratives include Macua culture and its knowledge.
In 2021 I had opportunity of participating on behalf of Ethale Publishing in the Afrocuration for Macua Wikipedia creators in Mozambique under the project «who we are» by Moleskine Foundation with strong support of Foundazione Aurora.
The Afrocuration in Mozambique was an online editing event attended by over 60 participants over the weekend. The event attracted new editors to the movement, and inspired and empowered them to create their first articles. These new knowledge creators, previously only consumers of knowledge on Wikipedia, made 60 articles during the event and continued editing weeks afterward to reach beyond 160, totaling 300 edits and 5k views.
Ethale Publishing, was a cultural partner and we brought on board our knowledge of Macua culture and knowledge gaps online, participant engagement and management. We secured the support of Rovuma University to help with language standardization and grammar. Additionally, we brought on the inspirational speaker Constantino Warilla, a Macua musical legend.
According to Mozambican daily newspaper Jornal Notícas, the event was “the biggest movement of content production in local languages in Mozambique” [Jornal Notícias, 7 September 2021, ‘Conteúdos em Emakhuwa já disponíveis no Wikipédia’].
However, participating on this project wasn’t only a collective path for Ethale Publishing as a leading cultural institution in Mozambique but also a great experience for me. I had an opportunity to be part of a team who valued the culture. Through this project we as Macua people were not only on footnotes of Mozambican history but we were in the headline of national and international media.
It was a multicultural project involving people working in different languages from different places. The team of volunteers included university students, teachers, nurses, farmers workers and tax drives. They were also facilitators from Italy, South Africa, Nigeria and Mozambique. All of them interested in this noble cause, valuing its language, culture and identity to open doors for new waves of creativity through the usage of African languages for authorship purposes.
It was a great experience of my life because through that, we started creating roots for the next generation of the Macua people to know themselves reflected in digital diversity.