In the next few posts, I intend to tell the story of my coming face to face with ICTs, and what’s been up to date. I hope I can conclude this after 3 posts, so I can move on to other interesting stuff — you can bet that I live in an interesting country, belong to an amazing profession and engage with strong issues around a fascinating continent. Enjoy, as I tell the story of how “I strayed into ICTs”. Please note that the picture above was rescued from its physical form, and I’m the innocent young man to the extreme left corner of the picture.
Four young men left the meeting feeling very differently about life, and I was one of them.
I grew up in a moderate city (Akure) in Nigeria and saw a computer for the first time at the age of thirteen. But I would not even be able to touch one until some three years down the line. The computers were locked up in the Principalâ€™s (head administrator of the secondary/high school) office and were only accessible to three kids who were sons of a well-known professor of Mathematics in Nigeria at that time. That was a very big challenge to me and I made up my mind that I was not only going to touch a computer but I would teach others how to use it to prevent the kind of embarrassment I faced each time I tried to get close to the â€œmagic beastâ€ that the school probably spent more money protecting than its students.
Three years after I was kept form the computers, I graduated from secondary/high school and thought it was good time to learn about computers. Though my parents initially felt it was too much money to spend on â€œsomething that would not earn you a bachelorâ€™s degree and a good jobâ€ but persistence would not keep me away from the computer school. I enrolled and graduated with the best feeling any human being could have â€“ I was connected to my dreams and knew that I was not too far from realizing it.
Then we had to attend a meeting in my local community. The invited speaker was so sure of everything she was talking about. She capped her verbal nuggets with the story of a man who â€œserved his generationâ€ and is still remembered for the same today. I knew she was referring to me when she said, â€œmaybe some people here today would achieve the same featâ€. That was the meeting that ignited the almost-lost passion that I had about helping others get connected to computing possibly earlier than I did. Four of us left that meeting deciding to influence the community and while many of us moved to different locations for study, the dream I held â€“ and the passion it was bathed in â€“ would not move an inch, except closer to reality.
Eight years after my first encounter with a computer, I engaged in a pre-degree internship at an information technology outfit and was able to learn enough to get me started with my dreams. And in the year 2000, I began with my first task in helping people use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development. I organized a training session on website designs with another friend, and about sixteen young people left the training with a similar glow to what I had some five years before then…
[Part II follows shortly, or maybe its a smart way of saying I’m off for lunch, late lunch]