Joy N.Y. Agyepong is the Outreach Coordinator for Open Heritage Foundation. She has about five years experience in various capacities such as resource coordinating to executive administration to operations management and public outreach in Ghana. She is currently a co-lead with the Wiki Hour Initiative where she focuses on equipping young girls and environmental advocates in the area of open sustainable education and gender bias.
History In The Making - Five Years And Counting In Projecting World’s Intangible Heritage Globally
With an amazing five years journey of making history to consistently project folklore activities from around the world, Wiki Loves Folklore (WLF), an annual international photographic competition hosted on Wikimedia Commons, a media repository of free-to-use images, sounds, videos and other media, is back with a bang.
From the month of February through to March, organized worldwide, this contest is organized with the support of Wikipedia community members and local Wikimedia affiliates and groups across the globe.
Folklore prides itself to be lively, accessible and informative and it has been heartwarming to consistently focus on folk culture of different regions on categories, such as, but not limited to, folk festivals, folk dances, folk music, folk activities and rituals, folk games, folk cuisine, folk instruments, folk wear, folklore, and tradition, including ballads, folktales, fairy tales, legends, traditional song and dance, folk plays, folk arts, folk religion, mythology and mythology figures, etc. and more.
Anyone, a trained photographer to an amateur one, anyone can take part even without any professional equipment. We have had many winners in the past editions who took photographs from their smart phones. Over the years as we started out as Wiki Loves Love, there was a need for us to redefine our campaign name and theme to uncover hidden tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Last year’s edition gathered about 8454 images by over 500 photographers from 93 countries. In the last editions, we have received total 42,442 images from 158 countries by 4,484 photographers.
2022 participating country mapping overview
How It All Started?
We talked to some of the key people who have been instrumental in shaping this global campaign to the major coup it is today. Let’s take a look at what they have to say about their perspectives and journey in the last five years.
The Founder and the board member, Rupika Sharma says, “When we first started this campaign, the idea was to create a platform for common people to be able to document their culture on an open source platform like Wikimedia Commons. In the last five years, it has become so much more. A celebration of local folk culture that different communities and indigenous tribes around the world can join. It has also allowed so many people to join the Wikimedia movement with over thousands of new accounts being created in Wikimedia Commons to participate in Wiki Loves Folklore campaign. We are thrilled to celebrate our Five Year anniversary with the 20th year of the intangible heritage convention of UNESCO’S Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The media we have received from our participating photographers is outstanding and simply beautiful.”
The Global Campaign Coordinator, Tiven Gonsalves adds, “The Wiki Loves Folklore and Feminism and Folklore are some of the unique competitions which are held internationally to document people’s local folk culture and to showcase the best of their traditions to the world. Managing the project has been a roller coaster ride and the support of my teammates and fellow volunteers round the globe have made this effort worthwhile. The images uploaded during the contest give me more inspiration of learning more about the various traditions happening in our own country as well as the world which we never heard or read on the internet. The organising team of volunteers and jury all round the globe are excited for the 2023 edition. We hope to see something unique this year.”
The Jury member, Vicenç Salvador Torres Guerola states that this campaign is a great initiative to motivate the participation of the entire voluntary group of the jury. “I am sure that all of us will participate with enthusiasm in this project. It has made me think about the need for these global projects to provoke the participation of Wikipedians, and obtain, in this way, thousands of new files. If you want to enjoy sharing your photos and videos with us, now is the time”, adds Vicenç. He describes the value of the contest bringing out the beautiful hidden culture of people to the front line for the world to appreciate. With his experience as the juror for this contest in the past four years, he appreciates the experience he has been able to develop with the selection of pictures to represent the real story of the moment. “Especially when you have a lot of good quality and beautiful pictures to select from, you just have to find a way to make sure you select the deserving picture. So I will say I have learnt how to select the correct or best pictures or picture at that short time”, he continues. “Our communities and photographers are making a great contribution to humanity by bringing those beautiful works of digital Art to the front line.”
He further thanked all the photographers who have participated over the years for their efforts as risking their cameras and time to hunt for pictures isn’t easy but they do it anyway so that the people around the world can see the hidden beauty through their lenses. He urges them to not stop even if participants may not have won anything yet. He believes their time will surely come. Thanking all the people supporting the coordination of the global campaign across the world, he urges them to continue doing this amazing work and never stop. He adds, “There are a lot of good images out there the world needs to see. It has opened my eyes to see the beauty of cultural values the creative mind behind the camera brings to light. It’s just simple and clear and educative. It helps bring out the hidden cultural value of people to the front line for everybody to learn from.”
The Jury member, Amuzujoe (Gabriel Joe Amuzu) shares, “I’ve found the Wiki Loves Folk contest to be an incredibly rewarding experience. It is a great opportunity to view the world through the eyes of amateur photographers from around the globe, and to see the beauty and diversity of local cultures and customs. Over the years, I have been amazed by the sheer diversity of the photos the jury is asked to review. Every year, I am struck by the creativity and skill of our amateur photographers, as well as by the wide range of cultures, customs, and traditions they capture. It’s always a fascinating challenge to attempt to balance the technical, artistic and storytelling merits of the various images, while at the same time learning about customs that are very often unfamiliar in my own culture.” He adds that this contest is an excellent opportunity for communities worldwide to showcase local talents, and to contribute to the sharing and preservation of local cultures and customs. “For most contributors, the contest is not about winning or losing,” he continues. “It is about celebrating the beauty and diversity of our world, and about sharing it with others. Even if you don’t expect to win, your work is still valuable and important.” He believes that participating in this contest is a great way to make your own contribution to recording the world’s cultural heritage as the photographs will be freely available on Wikipedia, and could be viewed and appreciated by thousands or even millions of people.
The Jury member, Michael adds, “The contest means a lot of time for me as a juror, of course, but also the prospect of good photos. My experience as a juror is that many pictures are submitted on the topics of the competitions, but there are few good ones. Even the winning images often lack a last bit of quality, whether it is sharpness, crop or color balance. But a good motif can put such things into perspective. Go out and take photos and videos. The video and also the sound contributions are still expandable. There are often many contributions from a few participants although almost every smartphone has a camera.”
The Jury member JurReinhold Möller (username: Ermell) states, “Wiki Loves Folklore is a campaign that changes your view on photography. It presents new perspectives and gives new ideas that one could not imagine as real.” He shares that his journey as a jury member in last four editions was a process of extensive learning about the folklore and tradition around the world, the differences between cultures and communities, and the similarities of being different at the same time.
He encourages people to join this campaign, adding “Folklore is a broad and unexplored theme surrounding all of us. This contest helps to discover, view and share it as free knowledge. Join our effort!”
Here is a lookback at some of the First Winning Images from the last four editions since its inception:
Participating photograph from 2023
What is in for everyone this year?
Wiki Loves Folklore is not just a campaign, it’s a movement, a movement with a motive to show the world how our cultural tradition looks like. A showcase and a sense of pride that our culture is being celebrated and known at a global level.
In the last five years, we have been partnering with local NGOs, Wikimedia affiliates and other groups to collaborate with us to organise this project locally. And as an international campaign, we empower the underrepresented communities and give them an opportunity to organize and celebrate their local heritage. We invite people into this wonderful journey to showcase their living culture over the internet under open access.
This year we partnered with 16 new organizations and groups for the local country editions of this project, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Guinea, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Spain, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda. Romeo Ronald L, country coordinator of the South Sudan edition shares his perspectives on joining the campaign for the first time this year.
“South Sudan has a very diverse community of tribes and cultures which is so rich with cultural information that has since never been documented and this Campaign comes in as a historical benefit for a number of communities and mine in particular, our community participating in this year WLF, is more blissful as for the fact that we shall be excited to see that we share our culture and stories via media (photos and videos) that can also aid in preserving the beauty of our culture and promoting co-existence in south Sudan. My community and I hope to achieve awareness, as a point for the people in South Sudan about the cultural diversities existing in the country. Wiki Loves Folklore is a campaign to unearth creativity as people share knowledge about their cultures and traditions.”
Now it’s your call! Any questions?
It is our utmost quest to keep up with our burning efforts to make history by projecting folklore activities globally. Therefore, we are extending opportunities for Wikimedia Affiliates and local non profits to partner with us to organize the local campaign in their respective regions. Individual volunteers and photographers are also welcome to join the biggest annual celebration of folklore and volunteer in an international team. We welcome your ideas and recommendations for the campaign. There are exciting national and international awards for the winning contributors.
Feminism and Folklore was birthed as a result of in-depth inclusion of writers, curators and creatives around the world to make Wikipedia rich with diverse content. Feminism and Folklore provides an opportunity for the local folklore enthusiasts and conservationists to document their local rituals, folk cultural activities, and songs improving the coverage on various cultures and new forms of heritage that haven’t otherwise been documented so far
This year, amidst the ongoing pandemic and it’s risks in attending in-person gatherings for contributors and photographers across the globe, we had more than 7,734 submissions of which eighteen (18) winning images were announced in the Wiki Loves Folklore with winning images across the globe during the international photography contest.
Wiki Loves Folklore focuses on folk culture — the unique folklore and traditions that make up a large proportion of the world’s intangible heritage — the folk dances, folk music, folk activities, folk games, folk cuisine, folk wear, folktales, folk arts, folk religion, mythology, and so on.
Wiki Loves Folklore (WLF) is an annual international photographic competition held on Wikimedia commons during the month of February, organized worldwide by Wikipedia community members with the help of local Wikimedia affiliates across the globe