I once read an article here on Techzim that talked about a path to learn how to code. The article was good but the problem I had with it was that it felt like something that is only possible in America or abroad. So here I am, writing this article for you to see that YES even a Zimbabwean can do it too.
Here’s how my journey began in late 2014. I was just finishing my O level exams and as we all know, that’s the time when you have to decide what you’re going to do for A level, or more importantly, what your career choice will be. At this point in my life, I knew that I loved computers but had no clue how to write any code or anything. I just strongly believed that that was what I was destined to do and it was just a matter of figuring out how to do it.
A friend and I decided that we wanted to make the next greatest thing like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. The idea was to create an application that people would use and it’d just start our greater vision of one day running a big software development company. It is this idea that got me to write my very first lines of code as I was the one who was in charge of building the actual thing.
So I went online and googled for, literally,’How to create an Android application’ and it lead me to YouTube where I discovered some good tutors like Derek Banas and Bucky Roberts. Back then we didn’t have an internet connection at home so I would go to an Internet Cafe and do the lessons and save some documents for offline viewing.
This went on for a few months until I finally convinced my father to get us internet at home and it was Africom. Not the fastest but at that time they had an unlimited package for Android devices and that was all I needed. On 12 August 2016, I successfully finished the application (meaning it had all the necessary features that we had outlined it should have).
Now it took me 1 year, 5 months and 12 days to get there. Yes, I noted it down. It’s because along the way I got frustrated with how slowly I was progressing and decided to try something else while I figured out Android development.
Entangled in the web
Web development is what caught my eye during my startup journey and that’s when I actually got serious about establishing myself as a coder because, at this point, I didn’t think the startup would make it. So I consulted my friend Google and asked ‘How to become a web developer‘. I read a lot of articles and they all outlined that I needed a web developer portfolio site, projects to showcase on the site and lots of practice.
It was early 2016 when I discovered FreeCodeCamp, an online resource to learn web development from scratch and the best part was they had projects that I could actually do.
Now I’m not perfect, so it took me almost 3 months for me to get to the projects section of the front end web development course on FreeCodeCamp. That’s slow. And I attribute that to procrastination on my part and not always having a constant internet connection.
The wake-up call
Time. It can be your worst enemy or your best friend. I could tell that I was ‘failing’ in life according to societal standards because most of my peers were about to finish A level and there I was, without anything to show. Besides that, I had to live up to my father’s expectation and I clearly wasn’t. Fortunately, I have a father who is understanding so he let me continue on with my adventure and supported me because I had explained what I was trying to do.
I had been a Techzim reader for a while at this point (July 2016) and one day I was just on Facebook, scrolling as usual when I came across an article about how 80% of websites add no value from Calmlock Web Design which is a good SEO and web design company.
The thought of getting a job had been on my mind already but this brought it back into my mind. I was about to turn 19 in a few months so, in an attempt to make myself ‘accomplished’ in society’s view, I decided to just apply. Now I didn’t have a website or any strong online presence so I had low expectations. A few days later I was contacted, given a task and I completed it, then a follow-up interview came.
Learning for life
So I began learning WordPress and before I knew it, I was making real websites for real people and actually earning some money. And on 26 of October 2016, I finally received my frontend development certificate from FreeCodeCamp upon completing the course. My plan was to use that certificate to get a job but by then I had one already, however, I still continued learning.
Looking beyond code
Code is one way you can make it in the digital world. However, you can also pursue other things. You can be a writer, social media manager or something else.
I’ve always wondered what else I could try other than coding, now that I knew it was possible to do anything in the digital world regardless of your qualifications or anything. I love technology and I pursued that passion. I’ve decided to try writing about technology, so here I am now, a member of the Techzim team.
Now don’t be fooled that all you need is passion. It’s going to take hard work, dedication and lots of practice. The point of me telling you my story is to show to you that YES even a Zimbabwean can do what may seem to be only possible in well-developed countries. Nowadays, it’s a whole lot easier than it was as we now have public WiFi hotspots that even offer free internet.
Am I the only person with such a story? No, that’s why we at Techzim are starting a new series which will show more stories of ordinary people like me doing things that may seem ‘impossible’, extraordinary or simply ordinary but proving that it is possible. I also encourage you to share your story and document your journey because it may be what someone is waiting to hear to give them hope and inspiration.
We still don’t have a name for the series so please leave a suggestion down below in the comments section. Thanks.
UPDATE: It’s been 2 years since I shared this and a lot has happened since then. Click the following link to read about what my experience has been like at Techzim as of 2019.