My dear Steve,
Waswahili wasema subira huvuta heri.
I am going to speak about the Kenya National Archives, because it's the
partnership that I'm focused on. Yes, we have been moving at a sluggish rate.
Sometimes it's my fault, sometimes it's theirs. But, IMO, most partnerships
don't take overnight to seal. They take months, or even years. And that has
nothing to do with Kenya or the government. It's the business norm. The British
Museum -- the first cultural institution to host a Residency program -- took
months to accept it. The Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar is still in talks with
Wikimedia -- these talks started (I think) 10 months ago. This agreement is not
just a piece of paper saying that we will edit Wikipedia and take photos. It
involves Museum personnel/staff -- meaning that they'll agree to devote their
time to contribute to Wikipedia. So all in all, it involves the Museum agreeing
to dedicate (some of) its resources to us -- whether its time or money. It also
has a binding agreement, explicitly stating that they have to stick to the
terms and conditions of the partnership. (e.g. what will you do if a senior
staff member forbids you to take photos of their gallery?)
If you want to go ahead and carry out this project unofficially, then go ahead.
I just hope that you (and everyone else who is in an official capacity to
represent Wikimedia Kenya) knows that if we want to form partnerships, these
things will take time. And there may be a shortcut this time round (which has
its limitations), there may not be a shortcut next time.
You talked about calling an AGM with the stakeholders. What stakeholders
specifically? You also talked about most government institutions being ignorant
about Wikipedia. While this statement may be true, I assure you that after more
than 5 meetings with the Kenya National Archives Management team, they at least
know the basics :-)
You also talked about carrying out editathons and taking photos at the Murumbi
Gallery (the gallery found at the entrance of the Archives). Do you know that
this gallery is barely 1% of what the Kenya National Archives has? Yes, 1%. The
Kenya National Archives is not a place which is supposed to host artifacts per
se, but most importantly, it houses millions of records, transcripts, maps,
agreements, videos, audio files related to Kenyan history. These records -- not
the gallery -- are the essence of the Archives. It is these records, about Mau
Mau, about East African Railways, about Tom Mboya -- that can be found nowhere
else, that they have.
So, if this deal really happens, the bulk of the work will be to digitize/scan
these records and upload them to Wikisource. Although I think that we should
also do what you said with the Murumbi Gallery, the bulk of the work still is
the mass upload as well as putting up the descriptions (metadata) of each
I am not supposed to talk about this, since it's still not yet official. But
many of you probably didn't know what will really be happening, if this
partnership actually takes place with the Archives.
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 07:20:10 +0300
Subject: [Wikimedia Kenya] Kenya National Archives and other GLAM projects
I have been physically following up on the subject of this email (together with
Abbas and Alex) for sometime now and it seems the logistics and the speed with
which these institutions are planning this are so slow that I feel I cant wait
any longer. Those of you who have worked in the Kenyan government or for the
Kenyan government definitely understand my concerns regarding the periods that
they would take to decide on such a simple thing on what to do - probably call
an AGM of the stakeholders.
In most of the cases, these guys do not understand the online stuff or even how
the internet works let alone Wikipedia (which is our work anyway). At the end
they will come to appreciate that it is a good thing - which it is always
is.There was a time when we visited the Kenya Railways museum and the curator
there was always confusing their institutional website with Wikipedia. He
thought Wikipedians job is to improve organizational websites! we clarified and
made it clear about this and on the next meeting he was at it again!
On our meeting with another directorate of the National Museums of Kenya, he
asked whether he could find Wikipedia on Google search. the exact conversation
was as below.
Alex: Hello, My name is Alex and am here with my colleague Steve and we work at
Wikipedia. Wikipedia is ...blah blah blah....
Museum directorate: Do you mean if I search Wikipedia on Google I will find
it? (Was just hilarious:)
Personally, I have not spoken to Kenya Archives about GLAM (though Abbas did).
But I think we should just go ahead and organize editathons at this premises
and this is why.
On Sunday 17th 2012 I was to meet with a friend in town who was running late
and so I decided to part with 50 Kenyan shillings ($0.5) and enter the premise
(Kenya National Archives) just to see what it holds. Plus I did not want to
stand along the streets or sit on the benches due to the frequent IED attacks
in Nairobi. It is rich in artifacts and even books about history of Kenya,
royal visits to Kenya, Kenyatta's famous chair and to crown it all they have a
library with articles about all these treasures. The receptionist in fact
encouraged me to take photos with a camera even before I asked for permission.
She even encouraged me to become a member of their library and I only needed to
part with 200 KES for a year as subscription to access the material plus the
artifacts of course.
My question is, can't we pay for this subscription and start using the library
to write articles about Kenya now that they have offline references there?
Probably on Weekends or even weekdays depending on the time one is free. I
think the chapter can cushion the subscriptions if that would hinder any
Wikipedian from accessing the facility. The internet shall definitely be
Kenya is still dark and still in the dark continent. Can't we illuminate it
with some light......?
Board Member & Treasurer
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