Mathews Chishinji, a 20-year old Zambian has created a programming language called “Hawking Programming” that allows anyone on the continent to code in almost any African Language. The motivation behind this was that not everyone on the continent speaks English, a language which most programming languages require.
This created a barrier of sorts for Africans who want to learn computer sciences but haven’t had the opportunity to learn English. Hawking Programming now allows a greater pool of people (in Africa) who might not be fluent or proficient in English a gateway into coding.
“Looking at the technological advancement and access in Africa, it came to my attention to came up with such an idea, before anything, I believe, its accurate and easier to expressions an idea in a language you understand, Africans are passionate about technology, but how to express their ideological methods of understanding, Hawking programming language is a pure and easy to understand programming language meant for the African child. Through the support and encouragement from friends and family, I got the energy and motivation to further this project.”
Mathews Chishinji (via AfroTech Newz)
The other thing this does is it allows more native software ecosystems. Africans can now create programs regardless of their ability to understand English or any other language.
However, with all innovations there are some concerns
The biggest issue here is collaboration across Africa. If the code is written in Shona, for example, for someone in a neighbouring country to be able to collaborate, they will have to learn Shona. This limits what we can do with one another because we are then adding another barrier where one existed (English).
Some African languages may not have some words that might exist in English. This will most certainly lead to some roadblocks for programmers as they try to build software.
At this point, some of you would say that there are other non-English programming languages
There are of course other non-English programming languages:
Hawking Programming isn’t even the first one that is tailored to African Languages. Swap (Swahili) and Yorulang (Yoruba) which were both written over Node.js all predate it. Hawking is, however, now doing it over more languages than the other two.
This reiterated the points brought on earlier, but this is a net positive because those problems can be ironed out as Hawking Programming improves as times goes on.
If you want to try out Hawking Programming for yourself you can do so with the link here.