THE AFRICAN DREAM

Manicured hedges, magnificent gate and a serene and tranquil environment marked our arrival.  The words “Esse Quam Videri” loosely translated as “To be than rather to seem (to be)”, screamed from the iron gates.

The time was 2 pm E.A.T, the midday sun shone relentlessly, the superstitious ones predicted a good day (probably they weren’t wrong). This was to be the second edition of our Computer Science for High School Project (CS4HS) .

To our surprise, Mr. Mutinda; the IT teacher at Chania girls, had set the stage ready for us an we walked into a room full of elated and eager students . I later came to know that they were settled 2 hours earlier waiting for us. Their monitors were buzzed with activities as these young minds tried outdoing each other in opening and closing folders and probably in a bid to appear geeky. The anticipation in the air was palpable we didn’t have to wait any longer.

A string of hands shot up Immediately we made the introduction “Sir. How can you make a game?”, “teach us how to hack Facebook sir”…. This were just but a sample that caught my greatest interest.

In me questions and thoughts sprang up in equal measure and I kept wondering what would have happened had we came earlier and perhaps introduced these kids to computer programming at a tender age. “Would Africa have a Bill Gates yet? Or  maybe a Zuckerburg?  Would safaricom need to import cyber security expatriates? Would the silicon savannah be only a dream as it is today?”  All these went unanswered.

The girls turned out to be such an awesome audience/ students. Slowly we dived into HTML and carefully navigated from the shallow waters of the <html> element to deeper waters, where we found attributes of elements, tables and forms throughout the session the girls offered a continuous bombardment of question that not only challenged us but also made us rethink on our approach to web-development.

Laughter, cheers and jeers filled the room as the girls swam in their newly found world of web-development. While some girls like Mariah quickly got a grasp of what we taught others like Claire seemed to take time and analyze each and every fact we gave them before accepting and grasping on to it.

Standing in the room I could see the new face of Africa, A renewed generation, new dispensation and new awakening.

I could see an Africa where youths drive the economy and technology is not just a word we use in international conferences but a tool we use against the evils (hunger, poverty and insecurity) that now face us.

Looking deeper, I saw the new girl child of Africa, that Lady CEO of a multi-national technology company, a lady computer scientist. For a moment I thought of Africa and my mind was at peace.

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Sharpening Man

For many of us who grew up in the country-side especially around western Kenya, can recall that old   man and many a times thin, who would be ritually present at every market day or sometimes do regular trips around the village. It wasn’t however, his presence on every market day or his regular ceremonial trips around the village that made him stand-out, rather his unique tools of trade.

Like most old-men had bicycles (a preferred means of transport then, doubling up as a measure of social-status or wealth), this old man was no exception. Though his is bicycle was different, as it was both a tool of trade and a means of transport. Like sinners and tax-collectors around Jesus, women would occasionally throng around this old man armed with blunt pangas, knifes or any item that had a cutting edge/blade.

As a kid, this man really fascinated me. I secretly wished to be like him if not be him someday; though not to have women crowd around me but rather possess that unique bicycle and make trips around the village showing it off to my friends.

At times my mother would complain about a blunt knife then spot her among the old -man’s crowd and soon enough my sister would be rushing from the kitchen, blood oozing from her index fingure. This would happen on and on until my little sister   grew old or immune to oozing blood (so i thought). At times I thought this old-man a bad omen and even planted an ambush on, in case he came to the village again, lucky old-man never came back, for reasons I have never known.

Just like Jesus, the old-man vanished just as mysteriously as he had came to the village. To my surprise almost every panga in the village grew blunt. Women would then crowd around large rocks armed with pangas, knifes and anything that had blades.  This would go on, until our neighbor Oloo acquired a bicycle like the old-man’s. He however lacked the pomp the old-man had or that I at least thought he had.

Surely, when I was child I thought and acted like a child and now that I am man I try to think like a man. I am however tempted to bet that childhood dreams die hard, for mine die seldom.

I somehow found my-self in a classroom piusthat I somehow alludes the village. I grew up in. However, unlike my childhood old-man, I wasn’t surrounded by women yielding pangas and knives.

Around me was an array students, eager to dive into this new found world of computing. students yielding technologically blunt minds to be sharpened.

With me I had a laptop, like the old-man’s bicycle (that was unique), my laptop was also unique i.e. was running the latest version of Ubuntu (15.**) and installed in it was the python interpreter, Code-blocks IDE and sublime text editor.

Its then that it hit me, I was slowly turning into that old-man. A quick check  of my hair was inevitable to ascertain I hadn’t grown bald too.

The market was equator boys High School. We at SiliconBlaze were having our first session of Computer Science for High School;

an initiative of JKUAT students, with an interest in Computer programming, aimed at teaching high school kids how to write, read and implement code. Like iron sharpens iron, we undertook to sharpen this bright, young but unexposed minds, maybe we may horn a Bill Gates in them or better still inspire a problem solver.

Our mission was to sharpen their minds, unclog their thought processes and challenge the limitations to their imaginations. Call us overambitious, un-realistic, over optimistic or over confident, because that is what we are. That’s our mantra and karma. We create and nature problem solvers through charity.

Join us and let’s not only be solution providers but also solution creators.

#siliconBlaze

Published by Pius Dan

Follow: @PiusNyongesa