I had the privilege to attend Pycon Namibia 2018. My travel was sponsored by a grant from the Django Society UK, of which i am very grateful.
PyCon is a conference for the Python programming community. Previously i had only attended 2 previous Pycons, both in zimbabwe the first in 2016 as a speaker and then the follow-up in 2017 as both speaker and organiser.
The first lesson i learnt is never book a flight on the first day of the conference. We had an Air Namibia flight delay of 2 hours causing us to arrive around lunch on day 1.
I managed to catch the one of the best presentations of the conference by Daniele Procida, he had a practical walkthrough of how to organise and structure a budget and planning for a PyCon. It was a very informative talk which shall be of great assistance in or future Pycons that we will host.
After Daniele then came the lighting talks, these are always fun filled and we saw a large number of people wishing to share their findings and ideas.
Anna Makarudze & Kudakwashe Siziva presented on the duo combination of Django & Angularjs (Djangular) – their technical workshop was almost hampered by internet connectivity problems. Which is a common problem at technical conferences and a point noted to create a lan server for speakers to pre-install relevant documents/ software and have participants pull/download from a local repository to circumvent internet issues.
I went on to present my workshop on Data Analysis with Jupiter, i have used Anaconda extensively in my lectures/labs/tutorials and it was a joy being able to show people how the could automate mundane day to day data analytics. Most felt they would continue exploration of data science after the workshop.
One of the highlights of the entire conference was a young boy Berhane Wheeler who came in with his mom in tow to cheer him as he gave workshop on how to build a guessing game in python. He is an inspiration to many, at barely 13 years old he already knows programming. A feat that attests to the usability and versatility of Python as a language.
Day 2 ended with the usual lighting talks.
Marlene Mhangami presented on the growth of the Python Community in Africa, as well as the hope for a pan-African PyCon. After came Ngatatue Mate who serenaded everyone with Python in Music, my biggest take away was for introductory courses to Python i feel one of the music problems would be an ideal project for beginners to quickly make something that is tangible and retain interest in the language, i feel it is something that will become a part of our tutorials.
After that i attended the talk on Virtual Reality by Candy Tricia Khohliwe from Bostwana, it was her first python talk and she is a Mozilla Volunteer, it was great seeing that Python is growing within the region. A Whatsapp group was created with includes Pythonistas from Nigeria, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and it mainly assists in helping foster Python growth on the sub-continent and the members will try to assist in creating new communities.
I then proceeded to present my Talk, moderated by Dr Vince, i gave a summary of activities we conduct at Harare Institute of Technology using Python, as well as the growth in adoption of the language with various universities in Zimbabwe.
Over the past year after, Pycon Zimbabwe 2016, we introduced a dedicated Python course, and assisted in the founding of Zimbopy, where i assist as a University Coordinator, identifying students to undergo mentoring and other Zimbopy activities. After PyCon Zimbabwe 2017, i founded the HIT Python Developers club, together with Zimbopy we carried out the first workshop with Florian from Sandtable & his friend Roman.
The lighting talks on the final day were brilliant, one of the takeaways was Dr Vince’s talk on Latex, it was a brief introduction teaching how to use latex to have properly formatted documents. Anna
My experience from Pycon Namibia has helped me appreciate what a properly coordinated conference looks like, and our hope is that as Pycon Zimbabwe we will be able to reach the levels of success that Namibia has attained.
My biggest take away from the conference was an urgent need to build something of our own. My line of thought goes something like this; We are expanding our footprint and creating wealth of knowledge and teaching people how to program. I feel as African Pythonistas we need to create flagship products, i.e our own open-source projects. So my aim is to create a flagship open source project from Python Zimbabwe, to be exhibited at PyCon Zimbabwe 2019. Currently submissions are open for ideas.
I intend to go to to one of the upcoming West African Conferences in 2019/2020.
My humble thanks to everybody at the Django Society UK for sponsoring my trip. And thanks to the organisers and sponsors of PyCon Namibia.