SLAYING CODE FEAR

By Oduor Jagero

I have always wanted to code. Or at least know what code is trying to communicate when I see it.  The ability to know what a div does and what bootstrap accomplishes has gnawed at me for about eight years now.

Let me put that into perspective. Even though my background is writing, I run a company called Komedia (koamedia.co.ke)  and the founder at summit.cmsafrica.org. They are both in the area of Tech. So imagine a guy who has found one of the biggest tech events in East Africa and ran a tech company doesn’t know jack about CSS and HTML. Don’t even talk about Javascript and other languages.

So when my clients bring me that something has crumbled on their site (which my company built), I have to call a worker, and if he is unavailable on the phone, I have to go on my knees and pray that something gives.

Well, mostly something gives. But at times, I get worked up and end up feeling like a fool. So for the last several years, I have toyed with the idea of learning these things. But like a teenager in the middle of a dark street, I have been immobilised by fear – the intense fear of learning code.

I paid a subscription at lynda.com thrice, but each time I started looking at the mix of red and green anchor tags and other dark-and-mean looking things, I would just give up and look at my subscription expire before my eyes without learning anything. I thought of doing something different; looking for someone to teach me or joining a brick-and-mortar school, but fear – damn fear. Fear is crazy, fear is bad.

What did I do next?  I retreated to where fear had condemned me.

I had heard of Moringa School a few years before. But I am a busy guy. I travel a lot and have meetings all the time. I did not have the time to get into a boot camp sort of life. And I did not want to create that time. Surely that is not my life; that is the life of boys and girls who have just finished school. And even when I sat my first class and looked around – at boys who had just finished high school – I hated myself for getting into this. I almost quit when our technical mentor Moses Okemwa stood before us and gave a pep talk about the course that we were going to start in a few minutes.

My first morning at Moringa was surreal. It reminded me of my first day in high school. Moses Okemwa is a funny guy; he tried to make us feel good. He did not allay my fears. But he us told that all is possible  – if you believe.

That day, I wrote an HTML document from !DOCTYPE to the last HTML tag. I ran it, and it smiled back at me on Google Chrome. I spent the first week playing with CSS, the colour codes, rows, containers and all the crazy stuff I have seen online schools.

By the end of the week, I felt free, free from the fear of code, free from my unbelief. And the fact that I could get under the computer hood and hide in the terminal and do magic and things pop in the name of folders, files, and push them to a  remote server, has been exhilarating.

Moringa Prep will come to an end in under two weeks. I am not going out of this school a pro – no far from it. But something revolutionary has happened to me. I am a new person. I am going away believing that a foundation has been put down, a formidable foundational brick has been laid and going forward, I will continue putting them bricks one by one. I know I will reach the ceiling and shatter it on my way to the sky.

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