I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that technology will play (and is already playing) an important role in the transformation of narratives across the African continent.
You don’t have to look far to share in my faith. Take a look at Andela’s mission to build the next generation of tech leaders and Udacity’s Google Africa Scholarship Program. They are designed to locate the most talented software developers in Nigeria and across Africa.
I was really inspired by the work that Google developers are doing through community building in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. So, using the Google Developers Groups (GDG), I applied at the beginning of the year to start a local GDG chapter in Warri, Nigeria.
Since I don’t live close to Lagos (the epicenter of the technological revolution that is sweeping the African continent)—I’m in Warri, a city in the Delta state south of Nigeria—that meant I could only attend meetups. and tech events remotely (via Twitter, to be specific). Not the best way to build a network, if you’re a remote worker like me!
I needed to feel, touch, and meet people who are in industry in my field, and I wanted to help inspire others who are willing and aspiring to embrace technology and become developers.
Who am I?
I am a front-end developer, technical writer, a volunteer editor for Freecodecamp Medium Publishing and the lead organizer of the Google Developers Group, GDG, Warri, Nigeria.
My journey in software development started in my teens. In 2003, I was introduced to QBASIC, the language for beginning programming course that I had to take as part of my requirements to obtain a Diploma Certificate in Data Processing. It used to be taught through the Department of Computer Science at the University of Benin in Nigeria.
Uncle Frank, a lecturer in the CS department, started a software club under the leadership of Roland Ukor with the help of some students. We were taught Visual Basic 6.0, Cold Fusion, Classic ASP, and then Dot Net (which was just released by Microsoft).
In retrospect, this was my earliest encounter with group studies and technical community culture.
The Google Developers Group is a local group of developers (and interested developers) who are interested in Google technologies and APIs. A local GDG chapter can host meetings that are tailored to their communities, such as helping people learn to code and become developers, host hackathons, and run CodeLab.
GDGs have been at the forefront of building tech communities in sub-Saharan Africa. GDG is the largest developer community in Africa (see directory). Since I am eager to build a community of developers from the ground-up to Warri, and bring the same enthusiasm and empowerment that technology gives, starting a GDG chapter fits naturally. I believe the community can stand on the shoulders of other GDG chapters and Google Developers experts to look forward to.
I understood the role of social media in helping to bring members to our Meetup page, but I also realized that I had to do some onsite promotion. So I started on college campuses (targeting computer science undergrads) within Warri and Delta State.
But to spread the word about the new GDG chapter in Warri, admission to colleges required some strategic planning. I needed some field workers and volunteers, which I did not have at that time. I had to run alone to get the word out.
How did I do this?
On March 16, 2018, I was about to speak at a Forloop meetup in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, three hours from Warri. Since this was the first time I was going to give a technical talk, I made a post on the Facebook group inviting people to join the meeting. A gentleman made a comment about coming. I replied that I would wear a shirt with the inscription “Riding on Grace” and that if he attended, he should say hello to me.
You can only imagine how surprised and delighted I was when, after the meeting, a gentleman came up to me and introduced himself as Ilekura Idovu. With a smile he told me “You really wore a Ride on Grace shirt.” Immediately, I remembered the Facebook conversation and was excited to meet this gentleman.
Idowu is a student of Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun-Warri, Nigeria. He played a key role as a leading volunteer for GDG Warri, and made my first appointment to introduce GDG Warri to final year mathematics students at the university.