So its been a long time!
So long that i had to use a search engine (guess which one!) to find the URL for my own blog!
My last post was like more than 5 months ago and i apologize….sincerely.
Rest assured that the reason i have not posted anything in a while is not because nothing has been happening…..rather it is because too much has been happening.
In the past 5 months i have:
- Had lunch on the roof of the Co Creation Hub in downtown Yaba with a host of enthusiastic Naija coders and 4 other people almost as crazy as i am
- Met some awesome developers across the continent , one of whom i have christened "The Black DJ" after a remarkable product he built on the West coast of Africa to another who developed an Android keyboard for Amharic on the east side
- Carried out some eye opening cross-continent-research with my man Ato
- Watched two Ethiopian girls put Willow Smith to shame :-)
- Twice bumped into ladies rushing out of the same men's room (yes men's room) i was walking into….in two different countries!!! (it is not a small something!)
As i am sure you would agree each of these items is worth a full blog post …or two but i would crave your indulgence to let me postpone all the gist to a later date.
The issue i would like to broach today if you have a few minutes is something that has come up in a few discussions i have been privileged to be part of in the last few weeks, an issue that even yours truly could be guilty of.
A popular saying goes: There are old pilots and there are bold pilots…but there are no old, bold pilots. I totally agree .
Another saying goes: There are old software developers and there are bold software developers, but there are no old, bold software developers …or at least very few of them….in Africa. I am also almost tempted to agree.
What do you think?
To make things a bit clearer, I will use a scenario I have encountered in Nigeria and which i think is replicated in many African countries:
Okeke is a young software developer who started off as a .NET developer , straight after he left school, he got a job in a small software company where he now works developing what will one day become their flagship product.
The product gains maturity and is deployed for a few paying customers and then a few more. After two years, Okeke is now recognized as a veteran .NET developer in the firm where he works and leads a team of 3 other developers working on the same product.
At some point he leaves that company for another one that offers him a position with more pay and this time leading a team of 4 developers working on another similar product. He does this stint for another 3 years before leaving for yet another company (a start up this time) where he is offered a position as lead software architect or CTO. It is at this point that things change.
Why? Well, you see the thing is, as lead software architect, Okeke believes that his days of immersing himself in code are over. Its time for him to start managing projects ,meeting clients and making all the tough decisions on whether to use Microsoft MVC Cake PHP or WebApp2 for the next project while he leaves the day to day coding duties to the developers working under him. Indeed ask any developer in these parts where he or she sees themselves in the next 5 years and you will hear things like :
"i want to be a consultant" or
"I want to be a software architect"
for many of them the thinking is that at that stage you will be calling the shots, telling people how to do stuff instead of having to do it yourself.
Contrast this to other parts of the world where you see a lot of "mature" software developers who have been in the game for 15 to 20 years and are still going strong like Clarence Seedorf. If you do not believe me, you can take a look at this list of programmers who have affected our lives in one way or another and you will see that a good number of them are still very active developers and do not look tired at all….not by a long shot.
I wonder if this could also be a contributor to the small software company syndrome i hinted at in my other post.
Maybe this is why not many earth shaking achievements in the field of computer science have come out of our neck of the woods because by the time we are getting to the stage where we know enough to do anything enduring , we loose interest and start hustling to move up to "management".
But then again maybe its because developers are not well compensated for their efforts and feel that the only way they can get the compensation and respect they deserve is to make it to "management"….but could it be that the reason that developers are not well paid or respected is the very same issue we are discussing?
Maybe thats also why software developers around here do not get the respect they feel they deserve from the non-techie community because when you think about it, its difficult to have a lot of respect for people in a field who are all trying to get out of that field. For example imagine an argument on a software solution deployment between a software engineer with 4 years experience and a project manager on the client side with 15 years experience who has seen software developers like the one he is arguing with come and go like soldiers through an army barracks. Who do you think will win? Now imagine the same argument but this time with a software developer with 15 years under his belt, what are the chances that the outcome will be the same?
Who knows right? Food for thought.
Its time for bed, i am beginning to ramble and also i need to catch up with a few YouTube videos before i hit the sack as my link seems unusually fast tonight.