What They Never Tell You About Being a Developer in Kenya

By Rodgers Gitau, Cohort 7 student

Africa’s Tech Industry is raising. We have all heard the numerous CTO’s give talks about how Kenyan Tech industry is the new niche and how Kenyan developers are making waves in the industry. Personally I have always wanted to be a bad-ass, kicking in the door techie who spends hours in the night fueled by caffeine. I would then resurface with an awesome app that would then mint millions into my bitcoin account as I party till the next genius app idea bug bites me. Thanks to binge watching hours of Betas, Silicon Valley, Mr Robot etc I had always figured with enough work hours, I would eventually become a ninja developer(read hacker) whose might can reach Mt. Olympus and back.

When I finally took the plunge and joined Moringa School, I was all psyched up and spread the word around town that I would emerge in 5 months as the next Bill Gates. After about 7 weeks of being in the program, I have learnt a few hard truths about what developing in Kenya is in reality:

Too much Content

Learning to code is hard work. Unfortunately I happen to live in a digital world so searching for help on the internet yields a ton of information. Most of these tutorials are  biased opinions by other developers. Follow some guy’s opinions and you find yourself even more confused.

My advice read the official documentations then learn by building mini-projects. You don’t have to build a billion dollar idea, just build something that works.

Learning by yourself is suicidal

There are no superheroes in the coding community. Individual work is encouraged but working in teams will provide an even better learning environment. I’ve had to appreciate that struggling and dying like a gladiator is foolish. There always people who have been down the same rabbit-hole and finally figured the path to Wonderland. If you don’t want to to get depressed, consider learning how to disappear completely. As it is said, there is nothing as useless as doing so well something that should not be done in the first place.  Ask for help – trust me – it will save you time and brain cells.

Life happens. It goes on no matter what

While locking myself and emerging in 5 months seemed an awesome idea, I’ve been taught the hard way that you cannot live inside a cocoon. The world is as always was; power fails, internet is still expensive, the landlord will break down your door when rent is missing, insecurity is still real. The technology pace at which the world is growing into is outstanding. Space travel is no longer a movie gimmick any more but a definite trip plan. If you are to survive in this passion fueled industry, you cannot isolate yourself without losing interest.

Have Fun, otherwise what is the use?


Believe and Begin

By Mark Mwaura, Cohort 7 student

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. I have always wanted to find something that I love doing and use it to improve myself and other people.

About four years ago I wanted to know how an ATM bank account system works so I didn’t have a choice but to go to the university and do a course in information technology. During the degree program I always looked for “that thing” which I liked to do in information technology and also fulfill my goals. It was then that I stumbled upon programming during my library sessions in the evening at Strathmore University. I immediately admired the process and the results of creating software. I also did community work during my break periods in university which served as an eye opener on how I could provide solutions and dedicate my life to solving existing challenges using software.

Over the years I trained myself how to write simple programs, but I always longed to know what the standards in developing a career out of software engineering were. Online tutorials helped but not as much especially with aspects such as working in a team, so I continued looking and hoping. I needed some form of mentorship or simply work as a freelance software engineer.

During the New year period I purposed to actively search for jobs, mentorship opportunities and attend all developer conferences available in Nairobi. This helped a lot as I received several internship opportunities and during the Nairobi Tech Week which was held in late April (this year), I became aware of Moringa School (http://moringaschool.com), a top software developer school in Africa.

I did the interview in May and joined Moringa school full time in early July. Since then  a lot has happened. Some myths that I had earlier on software development have been debunked while some of them have been affirmed. Moringa School program has been crazy for me, especially due to the fact that I have health issues.

The program runs during the week Monday to Friday (8am till 8:30pm) at Ngong Lane Plaza on Ngong road. I used to sleep for long 8 to 9 hours but nowadays I only get at most 6 hours of sleep per day.

The course content has been excellent as I now know a lot about front end development, back-end development and android development which I don’t think I would have known had I not come to Moringa School. No university in Kenya or in the region could get me to where I am like Moringa School.

The experience is rewarding if one is willing to put in much effort to become a world class application developer. Currently am busy working on projects and debugging applications which I will present at the end of the course. I’m glad to engage myself in understanding how to create proper maintainable applications for people and in this way lose myself in serving others which gives me a great sense of fulfillment. Consistency as an individual is key so am watching that to achieve my goals.

Lessons learnt so far include:

  1. Never give up. Always continue pushing.
  2. A difficult past doesn’t mean your future will be difficult.
  3. Destiny demands diligence.(If you need to get somewhere you need to be honest and committed about it always).
  4. To make yourself better always keep on learning.
Mark Mwaura, Cohort 7 Developer

Moringa School: Changes and Looking Forward

August 17, 2016

Over the past few years, Moringa School has grown to become known as the premier developer bootcamp in Africa. We were founded in April 2014 by Frank Tamre and Audrey Cheng with the goal of transforming technical education in Africa. Today, after over 2 years, we are publicly announcing that Frank has decided to transition from the company. Post-Moringa, Frank will be heads down in game development – a passion he has always held – and will take the opportunity to spend more time on spiritual growth and reflection before he decides how he will continue contributing to the tech sector in Kenya.

While this decision may come as a surprise, we – Audrey and Frank – have spent numerous hours chatting together about the future of Moringa since February of this year. We are both wholly invested in the future of Moringa School, but could not come to agreement on the direction we wanted to take the company. As entrepreneurs who are constantly learning, we spent hours reflecting on ourselves and learned an extremely valuable lesson:  that co-foundership is truly like a marriage. And before a marriage, we needed to have certain conversations to ensure that we set expectations for one another before we took the leap of faith. We didn’t have those conversations in the beginning, which is why a year into operations we were stumped when we couldn’t agree on our future.

Frank leaving Moringa School has not been an easy decision for either of us. We both decided that we were not the right co-founder team to lead Moringa School, so we talked about what Moringa School would look like if either of us left the company. In the end, Frank decided to leave Moringa because it seemed to be an opportune time to pursue other passions and Audrey had already built a strong pipeline of partners across Africa for scale. We both put the company and its mission’s interest ahead of our own to make this decision. While the shift has been challenging to us and our team, we are both confident that we made the right decision for the success of Moringa School.

As Moringa School moves forward, we are both incredibly grateful to have learned as much as we did with each other and will continue to support each other in our next steps. In the next week, Audrey will be writing a blog post about the new direction that Moringa School is heading into to scale high-quality, technical education across the continent. This will be one step closer to our goal of transforming higher education and the workforce in Africa.

Moringa School’s co-founders will always be both of us – for without one or the other, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Entrepreneurship is a challenging and exciting journey, and we would love to share our lessons along the way with new or existing entrepreneurs. So please feel free to reach out to either of us! To grow is to succeed, and neither of us can deny how much we’ve grown since we started Moringa School. In Moringa School 2.0, our education is going to become even more high-quality, personalized and matched to the needs of our modern world. We can’t wait to share with you updates along the way.

Sincerely and with love,

Audrey and Frank