The Encyclopaedia Of African Wisdom.
The rescue mission of the African culture starts in a small village in Cameroon. Chief Gaston Donnat Bappa was born here. He is an IT specialist with more than three decades of experience in different companies and institutions and is currently the General Coordinator of the ITSUD (Information Technologies for Sustainable Development), an NGO in Song-Mbengue in the rural area of Cameroon, and institution that fights the digital divide, in African rural areas notably.
The 56-year-old is creating a site that he hopes will become the first port of call for African arts and crafts, food, laws, medicine, music, oral storytelling, religion, science, sport – anything that can be defined as tradition, dating back millions of years. A prototype is open for contributions, with early entries including Myths and Legends of the Bantu, and Concepts of Social Justice in Traditional Africa. The name: African Traditions Online Encyclopaedia (ATOE).
The idea grew from Bappa’s passion for beliefs and customs from a young age on in his village, Ndjock-Nkong, as well as his traveled to more than 20 African countries as a senior IT engineer, consultant and bank executive. Bappa:
I saw that even in my tribe traditions are beginning to disappear. When I was going to other countries in Africa I saw it was the same. It’s not because young people don’t want to learn about them but because they don’t have the access in urban areas.
Gaston Donnat Bappa embodies the combination of old and new: He inherited the title of clan chief from his great-grandfather, grandfather and father 22 years ago but has 34 years of experience in computer technology. He hopes to bring the two worlds together in his project.
People think traditions don’t belong with information and communications technology because traditions are so far behind us and ICT is so far ahead of us. But if you don’t know who you are, you don’t know where you are going.
The ATOE will use wiki applications for volunteers to input, change or remove content in collaboration with others. Bappa is operating from Yaoundé and working to raise worldwide awareness of the project, which he will formally unveil at next year’s eLearning Africa conference. He plans to approach Microsoft and other potential sponsors in an attempt to raise 400,000 Euro for the initial phase.
It is not only for Africa. It will be open to all worldwide, Africans and non-Africans. It is for the whole of humankind because Africa is the cradle of humanity. We are going to ask Wikipedia if they can transfer all the information on African traditions to our database, and they’ll be very happy to do so, I’m sure
Have a first look at the encyclopaedia here.