International African Child Day: Barbara Gwanmesia Births Batazia and the Quest for Universal Knowledge Access in Africa

In 2020, a startling revelation about language barriers in global online bookstores led to the creation of Batazia, an ambitious project aimed at revolutionizing access to knowledge in Africa. When the world’s largest online bookstore refused to sell three ebooks Barbara Gwanmesia had translated into isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Kiswahili due to a lack of language support, she was stunned. Kiswahili, spoken by over 200 million people, was not included in their language repository, unlike some European languages spoken by mere tens of thousands. This blatant exclusion was not just a technical oversight but a denial of access to transformative knowledge.

Convinced that knowledge should be accessible to all, she initially envisioned an online bookstore specializing in African languages. However, the realization soon dawned that many Africans might not afford these books, and traditional online sales would not suffice. This led to a deeper investigation into the accessibility of knowledge in Africa, revealing a sobering truth: up to 90% of Africans do not fully understand the language of education and governance in their countries. Consequently, hundreds of millions are cut off from educational and economic opportunities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and disempowerment.

This discovery highlighted a need far greater than a mere bookstore. The mission became clear: to make universal knowledge, education, and information accessible in every one of the over 3,000 languages spoken in Africa. This vision, though daunting, was driven by a belief in the transformative power of breaking language barriers.

The solution lay in technology, though initially, the specifics were unclear. Barbara’s younger sister, a tech expert with advanced degrees and extensive experience, became her first ally. She identified AI and machine learning as the keys to Barbara’s vision. Together, they committed to making knowledge accessible in every African language. Recognizing their limitations in business, thry brought her son, a business strategist, into our team. His belief in the mission led him to leave his job and join the early start-up.

Their perseverance bore fruit in late 2022 when they secured their first angel investor, Emmie van Halder, who became an integral part of Batazia’s founding team. The journey has been fraught with challenges, but their resolve remains unwavering. Batazia is not just a business; it is a mission to democratize access to knowledge and education across Africa, empowering millions to transform their lives and communities. Through innovation and determination, Batazia is paving the way for a more inclusive and informed future for Africa.