Winning entries span Eastern and Central African countries, will expand Common Voice’s open-source Kiswahili data set

(TANZANIA, KENYA, AND DRC | OCTOBER 18, 2023) -- Today, Common Voice is announcing the winners of its “Wanawake Mashujaa'' Competition — six essays and essayists that expand its open-source Kiswahili data set while also honoring outstanding women in East and Central Africa.

The winners hail from Tanzania, Kenya and DRC and were selected by a panel of African linguists. They will receive prizes ranging from $450 to $120 USD. Essays will be added to Mozilla's Common Voice text corpus to enrich its Kiswahili data set and broaden its gender diversity. They will also be published on the Common Voice website and on partners’ websites.

The “Wanawake Mashujaa” Competition — Kiswahili for “Brave Women” — called for written biographies of extraordinary women in local communities across Tanzania, Kenya, and the DRC. It was launched on March 8, 2023, International Women’s Day.

Mozilla Common Voice is an open-source initiative to make voice technology more inclusive. In recent years, Common Voice has awarded $400,000 to people and projects across East Africa leveraging its data set.

Says Rebecca Ryakitimbo, Mozilla Fellow who led the competition: “These essays expand Common Voice’s repository in an inclusive way: by spotlighting women, who are often overlooked and underrepresented in AI training datasets. The winning essays celebrate female social entrepreneurs, engineers, technologists, politicians, and community development changemakers across the region.”

Says Abdul Rahman, a competition judge: “It was a wonderful experience interacting with all submissions and getting to not only know heroic women who have constantly shaped our social spaces, but also to get a glimpse of the Kiswahili literary scene in East Africa. The submissions were a labor of love, a true testament to the fact that when young writers are given a chance, they can dazzle and entertain, mesmerize and surprise.”

Below, learn about the winners and their motivations: (You can read all the submissions from DRC, Kenya and Tanzania in the hyperlinks)

Winners from the DRC


Providence Baraka, first place | Read essay

Providence is a computer scientist (Programming and Information Systems), a digital human rights activist and a civic tech practitioner working on questions linked to digital inclusion among youth and other marginalized groups within the community. He has been collaborating with various organizations locally and regionally on emerging

questions at the junction of Information Technology and Human rights including: digital

Inclusion, Cybersecurity and Online safety for women, human rights defenders and women in media through research, capacity-building activities, community engagement and activism. Baraka is convinced by the power of digital technology to positively empower people's lives by improving the democratic functioning of societies and communities through strengthening the role played by citizens in debates and decision-making processes.

“As a civic technology enthusiast and an advocate of equality in emerging technologies, I see it as my social responsibility to help build a narrative that encourages more young women to get involved in fields that were once thought to be just for men. I am convinced that we won't be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals without unleashing the potential of women in a complex world, governed mainly by bytes, algorithms and everything to do with science. So now, more than ever, we need to document and celebrate those women who have accepted to be themselves, the change the world still wants to see when it comes to reducing inequalities in fields related to science, technology and mathematics.”

—Providence Baraka


Chako Armant, second place | Read essay

Chako Armant is the "Head of Project" within Difference (, where she oversees all executed and planned projects in the organization. She has been an active member of the Difference community network project Pamoja Net since 2019. She works closely with CN partners including APC, ISOC, Open Cellular and is a peer member in APC's LOCNET project. She was chosen as an expert in community network management by the Internet Society in 2021; From where she is consulted for opinions and participation in online sessions organized by ISOC. Chako is also the "research manager" of La Difference, she plans and coordinates the research

requested by the various partners to explain the work to be done in the field. Chako was born and raised in DR Congo in the city of Bukavu, where she completed all schooling and obtained her degree in public economics. Passionate about journalism, she worked for 3 years in two local radio stations, which allowed her to have a good training in communication.

“A trained journalist and women's rights activist, I am convinced that women have potential to be promoted and valued. Every time I write about a woman or about myself, I know that I am contributing to the fight against gender-based violence.Writing Douce's story was a pleasure since she is a woman who has a positive impact on the community.”

—Chako Armant


Christine Mahamba, third place | Read essay

Christine Muyalo Mahamba, daughter of Adelard Mahamba and Annie Kavira, was born in the DRC in the city of Goma province of North Kivu. She has a degree in business management at nouveaux Horizons University in Lubumbashi (DRC) and intends to continue her studies in project management in Kenya.

“Writing about a woman who is an agent of change is, for me, synonymous with renewal and rebirth of women in society within our African cultures. For me, writing about a woman who is an actor of change is a sign of evolution and encouragement for the feminine gender who wants to show what they are capable of. But also and above all, writing about women who bring something more to our cultures is a way of showing everyone what a woman is capable of and sets a good example for other women who have this desire to bring something more to our companies.”

—Christine Mahamba

Winners from Kenya


Lennah Mwendwa, first place | Read essay

Lennah Mwendwa Muriuki is a final year student at the Technical University of Kenya undertaking BSC. Information Science (Informatics). She has a great passion for writing and reading. Being in the field of information and technology, she is aspiring to be among the women changemakers in the tech world.

“Celebrating the stories of women changemakers in my community has been an incredibly enriching experience. Through the Mozilla Wanawake Mashujaa Competition, I had the privilege of utilizing my writing skills to shed light on the remarkable journeys and impactful contributions of these inspiring women. Writing about the impact women are making though the use of technology is more than just narrating stories; it’s about amplifying voices, fostering a sense of unity and empowerment and breaking stereotypes. It was such a privilege and honor to be one of the voices for the Mozilla Common Voice.”

—Lennah Mwendwa


Nicholas Rop Kiplagat, second place | Read essay

Nicholas Rop Kiplangat is a student at Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya. He is set to graduate on November 23rd, 2023, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Kiswahili. Nicholas takes immense pride in achieving a first-class degree in his department and is overjoyed to have made an impact across the entire School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Nicholas is driven by the aspiration to reach a wide audience through his writing and speaking. He specializes in crafting informative pieces that provide valuable insights to various demographics, with a particular focus on youth, men, and, more importantly, women and their health. He is also the proud owner of a website named “Mtu Kuzi,'' inspired by the Swahili word that translates to Acknowledge. Nicholas’s ultimate goal is to become a lecturer, aiming to inspire and educate those who might seem unreachable through various means. Born in Nakuru County, Kenya, Nicholas is currently 23 years old. During his time at Pwani University, he gained valuable experience in various administrative tasks. He has also been actively involved in teaching Kiswahili to foreign students and engaging in online partnership teaching.

Nicholas’s commitment to knowledge dissemination is underscored by his participation in the Mozilla Common Voice program, where he authored essays and earned recognition and prizes. He further expanded his expertise through the KIPPRA mentorship program on policy making, receiving certificates as a testament to his dedication to learning and growth. His proficiency in translation, particularly between Kiswahili and English, highlights his belief that writing is a powerful means to acquire knowledge and reach a broader audience. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading, deepening his understanding of the world through the written word.

“Writing about women changemakers in my community has been a deeply enriching experience. It has given me the chance to showcase the extraordinary efforts of women who are making a significant impact on our society. These women have shown remarkable strength and determination, overcoming obstacles to bring about positive change. Through my writing, I have been able to give these women a platform to share their stories, and to honor their contributions to our community. It is clear that we need to do more to support and celebrate these remarkable individuals who are shaping a brighter future for us all.”

—Nicholas Rop Kiplagat


Simon Baraza, third place | Read essay

Simon is a student at Pwani University studying a bachelor of arts degree in Kiswahili Language. He is passionate about the language of Kiswahili and believes it's one of the languages that will help unify many nations in Africa.

“The world has been under patriarchal systems since ancient times. Despite men ruling for a long time, the women were upset and organized a conference to remove the opium. Led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, women are looking to be equal to men educationally, leadership and economically.This journey has begun to take root in Africa and even around the world. Samia Solution is a solution to save women from the chains tied to the side of the male world. It's a journey that has started slowly because even the mulberry started as spinach.”

—Simon Baraza

Winners from Tanzania


Zacharia Wambura Daniel, first place | Read essay

Zacharia is a second-year theology student at the University of Arusha. He is a vast reader who spends part of his time canvassing by selling health and religious books to support his studies.

“The things I learned in this essay about the African Hero woman is that, a woman is a person highly capable in leadership, despite the negative attitudes that society has built on a woman; that a woman cannot do anything, assuming that a woman is a poor person, that is a negative attitude — for example here in Tanzania there is President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and others. I have also learned that if a woman is encouraged, she can do great things, for example in the family, if a woman stands strong, the family is strong. Women have great contribution in society.”

Zacharia Wambura Daniel


Kwandu David, second place | Read essay

Kwandu is a second year student at the university of Arusha studying a Bachelor in English and Kiswahili language. Her hobbies include Writing, Reading, Sewing, and Sports (Football, Hoops, Running).

There are many achievements, but among them is the writing of an essay about a WOMAN LEADER, by highlighting Prof. Joyce L. Ndarichako Member of Parliament and Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania. The things I learned from her include;

  • A strong position in leadership
  • Excellence in planning and management of initiatives in leadership.
  • A good system of life outside of leadership, the way it contributes to achieving success in leadership.
  • The spirit and ability to learn, handle and solve challenges in leadership.
  • I have learned to be an assertive woman in everything that has a positive contribution to my community and my country as well.”

—Kwandu David


Nancy Omari, third place | Read essay

Nancy Smithman Omari is a second year education student at The University of Arusha. She is passionate about women empowerment and believes in her role as an educator she can train girls to attain education to reach their full potential.

“I wrote an essay about a 'heroic woman' for example Dr. Asha Rose because I think She is very inspiring and what she does is amazing. She started as a Lecturer at the university of Dar then later went on to be appointed the assistant secretary General of the United Nations during the period of the leader Ban Ki Moon.I find such stories inspiring and a motivation to others.”

—Nancy Omari