let’s all go out and wikipedia about Uganda henceforth

I WAS at a clinical laboratory doing my medicals a month ago and, waiting around for somebody to do something about a process, I ran out of things to do with my book and gadget.

During that break, my eyes were drawn to the floor whose tiling I felt was poorly chosen. Surely, I thought, the designers should have used tiles less prone to turning oil-slippery with any fluid spill – especially in a medical facility.

Then I noticed something more annoying: the tile-layers had driven nails into the floor while working, at points chipping the edges and corners of the porcelain and at others not bothering to drive the nails all the way in.

“We need a law to deal with all the people who make this #workmanship happen,” I tweeted.

Stephen Ssenkomago Musoke responded with, “This was the forte of vocational training colleges like Kyambogo (blue collar jobs) which were all changed to white collar universities. To break this cycle we need to go back to the basics grow brick and tile laying, painting, electrical wiring, plumbing, tailoring skills, etc.”

Somebody challenged him with the claim that Kyambogo had been a teacher training college and not a vocational institute, so Stephen sent the link to Kyambogo’s wikipedia page as “a little Saturday history reading.”

Always keen on such history, I read it. Stephen might have been sending us the page as another example of poor workmanship, besides educating the fellow who had challenged him!

Whereas the scantiness of information on the site was irritating, I realised this wasn’t the Kyambogo University website and that I could have gone there for more in this regard.

But a Wikipedia page is an important source of information because it is, presumably, an independent source put together by different well-meaning individuals whose information is filtered through editors who check it for accuracy and non-bias. It’s a fairly accurate crowd-sourced encyclopaedia.

Even if it’s free, to have a Wikipedia page and then not make sensible use of it is as bad as paying large amounts of money for porcelain tiles and then driving nails into them while flooring.

My bother intensified when I found the rather thin list of Kyambogo alumni on there. The only two people under ‘Business’, for instance, are Anatoli Kamugisha of Akright Projects, and Richard Musani, Marketing Manager of Movit Products.

Perhaps it’s just the two of them because they are the only ones with their own Wikipedia listings (as far as the contributor could establish with two clicks)?

Either way, this is the one job of the Kyambogo University information or public relations people – to update their Wikipedia page.

The Makerere University Wikipedia entry fares much better but is also not recently updated – which you can tell from the sentence about the Makerere University Commission of 2016: “The commission’s report is due in late February 2017.” This, meanwhile, is underneath the seemingly unnecessary sub-heading “Unrest in the 2000s”.

Why is that necessary? “Unrest in the 2000s”?! I don’t know – maybe Makerere presents more unrest than most other universities worldwide? What I do know is that this sub-heading is as annoying to me as “Other academics” on the same page, that lists just five (5) ‘other academics’.

On the University of Oxford & University of Cambridge Wikipedia pages there is no mention of unrest and certainly no listing of a couple of academics. Neither do those references exist on the University of Nairobi Wiki page.

There is a chance that the focus of the private individuals who updated the Makerere and Kyambogo pages limited their creativity to these less relevant items of information or, in the case of the ‘other academics’, they simply lost interest along the way.

And this is where we now have the chance to contribute. See, any of us with internet access can log in to Wikipedia and make edits to these pages so we enrich them and attract more scholars to our educational institutes of higher learning.

Both those pages would be massively improved if, for instance, they listed ground-breaking research and publications that have emerged from the said institutions over the years.

We could list all the Conferences hosted there and even highlight the intellectual results thereof or therefrom. The books written by all the First Class students and their later publications would make the Wikipedia entries of both institutions much more useful to internet surfers, the two Universities, Uganda and anyone anywhere at any time!

What about finding the work that the alumni or academia have done in their respective and relevant fields of study and specialisation that has stood out nationally in Uganda, on the Continent of Africa or, even better,in the world at large?

For years now, some of us have highlighted, profiled, tweeted and Re-Tweeted about various innovative and celebrated achievements in agriculture, technology, health and even the military…all originating from Uganda. Surely a few of those could have been put onto the Wikipedia pages of these two academic institutions of higher learning?

Of course.

Even now, I could go on and on but I won’t. Instead, I will hope the nail has been driven home here, but without chipping at the tiles while trying to ensuring they don’t stick out to potentially cause harm to those walking through.