Short Bytes: Cameroon has become the home to Africa’s first ever Google Code-in winner. The coding champion, 17-year-old Nji Collins Gbah, hails from Bamenda–a place which was recently cut off from the internet. The government has taken this step to curb the growing dissatisfaction among the masses. Meanwhile, Nji is living at his cousins’ home in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.Nji Collins Gbah, 17, is the first African winner in Google Code-in, the annual coding competition of Google. He is one of the competition’s 34 grand prize winners. The competition is open to the students between the ages of 13 and 17 from all around the world. Here’s the complete list of this year’s winners.
Nji lives in Bamenda, Cameroon. Sadly, he is now living in his cousins’ house in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde. Wondering why? Because the government has cut off his hometown from the internet.
The internet went dead a day after Google’s Code-in’s final submissions. Talking to BBC, he told that using knowledge gained from his two years of learning programming he tackled the tasks of the contest. Nji completed 20 tasks that covered all 5 categories set by Google.
“I was really, really amazed,” he says. “It meant my hard work writing a lot of code had really paid off.”
Nji’s hometown is an English-speaking region. There, people have multi-dimensional grievances against the government, including establishment’s failure to respect English’s status as an official language of Cameroon.
In response to the protests, the government authorities responded with arrests and warnings people of jail terms for “malicious use of social media.” In the recent times, there were increased incidents of street protests and strikes by teachers and lawyers.
The right activists are seeing cutting off the internet as punishment and a way to curb dissent.
Talking about the dead internet, Nji says, “I wanted to get a connection so I could continue studying and keep in touch with Google.” He hopes to finish his school in Bamenda and study computer science at some good university.
Nji will get to spend 4 days at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “Hopefully I would like to work there one day, if that is possible,” he says.
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