Please post your comments and suggestions for this article.

Comment by Timothy Kalyegira on December 26th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Today, December 27, 2012, I have accidentally discovered the New World Encyclopedia.

It attempts to observe and subjects closer than does the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, which I find somewhat refreshing.

However, like all western websites, books, universities and encyclopedias, it still fails to attain an up-close, microscopic understanding of Africa.

To begin with, I don’t know why the New World Encyclopedia is published as a sort of re-write and edit of Wikipedia. It can and should have started from scratch, since Wikipedia is not necessarily the most satisfying encyclopedia there is (despite its current status as the de facto international encyclopedia).

The western world’s inability to come up-close in its reporting on and historical understanding of Africa remains its greatest intellectual limitation, a tradition and tendency that the New World Encyclopedia carries on.

Since (in my estimate as one who does a lot of daily research about Africa) only about 30 percent of Africa’s history has been documented, western research and publishing firms can only rely on generic sources such as the CIA World Factbook and World Bank and various United Nations reports.

This explains what I’ve already mentioned — the vague, generic, figures-rounded-to-the-nearest-whole numbers western encyclopedias and books usually publish, such as the deaths in Uganda under Idi Amin or the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

)Just for the record, the deaths under Amin’s eight-year rule were a tenth of the generic 300,000 to 500,000 figure that we read about everywhere on the Internet.)

My personal view, from years of frustration at western inability to come up-close to the innermost facts of African history and culture, is that the New World Encyclopedia, at least for its Africa sections, abandons any reference to the CIA Factbook and of course any reference to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia and you build the facts from the ground upward, getting into African sources themselves.

I have got 20 times the detail on Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and so on that the New World Encyclopedia has, not just in general quantity, but for example, on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Idi Amin story.

Original, up close, built-from-the-ground information, from several sources that were an intimate part of these events.

I live in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on December 28th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thank you Timothy for your thoughtful and helpful comment.

With regard to the use of Wikipedia, perhaps the “About New World Encyclopedia” page whose link is located at the bottom of each article page can explain better the way NWE was constructed.

We agree that articles on African history and culture are generally lacking in accurate information, and strive to obtain the best information available that meets the academic standard of factual information.

If you would like to contribute your knowledge and expertise to the improvement of NWE articles, we would be very grateful. If you leave detailed information and corrections, with valid documentation, on the feedback page of any article we will review it and use it to improve the article. In the case of Uganda, you note that the number of deaths under Amin’s rule was significantly lower than those reported in the article. If you could provide documentation of the correct number we will be happy to revise the article.

Thank you again for your feedback and for helping to make NWE a valuable informational resource.

Jennifer P. Tanabe, Ph.D.
Social Sciences Editor, NWE

Leave a Reply

return to top