News

Cameroon’s Champion Google Coder Is Blocked From the Internet

Nji Collins is Africa's first Google coding contest winner, but his home in North West Cameroon is still blocked from the Internet.

Despite the political uproar currently taking place in their nation, Cameroonians remain resolute. Just last week the country's football team took home its fifth AFCON title and now, the country is home to Africa's first Google Coding champion.


Seventeen-year-old, Nji Collins, is one of the competition's 34 grand prize winners. The contest is open to students world-wide, ages 13 to 17. In order to qualify, Collins had to complete a series of coding tasks that stretched 5 categories. To win, he used the knowledge he had picked up from two years of learning how to code by reading books and utilizing online resources, reports the BBC.

Collins is from the city of Bemenda in Cameroon's predominantly Anglophone North-West region— the very same region that has been without Internet for nearly a month now due to government interference. The outage occurred just a day after Collins sent in his final submission for the competition. The government's Internet block came uncomfortably close to preventing Collins' success.

Thankfully it didn't. For now, Collins is staying with his cousin in the capital, Yaounde—a seven hour drive from his hometown. "I wanted to get a connection so I could continue studying and keep in touch with Google," said Collins' of the trip.

His talent and resilience are exemplary, and while it's great that he's been able to continue coding, wouldn't it be ideal if the young tech hero were able to do so from his own home?

Just bring back the damn Internet already.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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