Wikipedia empowers SA literature


Open Book Festival, together with the University of Cape Town, will be presenting a Wikipedia Edit–a-thon focused on South African literature. It will run from August to September 2014 at various venues around Cape Town. The sole aim of this series will be to update and create Wikipedia pages for as many South African authors as possible, thus allowing South Africa to be a part of creating knowledge and crafting history.

It is becoming apparent that most of the content on Wikipedia pertaining to South Africa, and the continent in general, is curated by people from outside of South Africa and, as such, much of it is outdated or inefficient. Open Book Festival wants this to change. Therefore, thirteen editors from the University of Cape Town’s mentorship program and another thirteen volunteers have been chosen to participate in four events to update the South African literature content on Wikipedia.

The series of events are as follows:

  • Wikihow Workshop on 25 July: The contributors will attend a short edit-a-thon workshop at the University of Cape Town where they will be provided with all the skills and information needed to create, edit and upload a Wikipedia entry. After this training, they will be assigned specific content to research and edit, which will be used at three follow-up edit-a-thon events.
  • Build up events on 29 August and 5September: Once the editors are familiar with the Wikipedia entry system, Open Book will host two build up events that will kick-start the edit-a-thon series. The public will be invited to come and view the live editing process. (Venues are still to be confirmed.)
  • Edit-a-thon on 21st September: All the previous events will be a build up to the official Edit-a-thon that will take place during the Open Book Festival. Contributors will upload their pre-approved content simultaneously and people from around the world will also be encouraged via traditional and social media to upload their own content. While this is happening, there will be a discussion about the content that will be streamed live on a screen inside the Fugard Theatre, one of the main hubs for Open Book Festival events.

All literature enthusiasts are invited to send through information on authors, literature festivals or general South African literature that they would like to have included on the Wikipedia pages. The content will be fact-checked before it goes live at the Edit-a-thon in September.

This is a huge undertaking and one that cannot be completed in its entirety during the festival, therefore the Open Book team hopes that this Edit-a-thon will start a chain reaction that encourages individuals to upload pages for the authors that interest them. The primary goal is to increase not only the amount of information available to literary fans around the world, but the quality thereof.


Notes to Editor:

The first event, the Wiki-how workshop, will be held on Friday 25th July 2014, in room A116, Arts Block, Upper Campus, University of Cape Town from 4pm – 6pm.

Please contact Frankie Murrey ( to find out how to get involved.


  • Wikihow Workshop on 25 July 2014
  • Build up event on 29 August 2014
  • Build up event on 5 September 2014
  • Edit-a-thon on 21 September 2014
About Open Book Festival

Open Book Cape Town is an annual literary festival, the first of which happened in 2011. Dates for Open Book 2013 are 7 – 11 September. The hubs will once again be the Fugard Theatre and much-loved indie bookshop, The Book Lounge.

When Mervyn Sloman and Ben Williams started talking about creating a festival, they had in mind around 60 literary events over 5 days featuring about 15 top international as well as some of the best South Africans writing today. Due to the incredible support Open Book received, that quickly grew into a festival that now includes over 100 events, featuring over 100 authors.