Every year, Google hosts the Google Code-in, a global online competition, where teenagers, usually between the ages of 13 and 17 complete small open source programming tasks. According to Google, 1,340 students from 62 countries completed 6,418 tasks before the end of the competition. And 34 teenagers completed 842 tasks to emerge grand prize winners.
This year, and for the first time since the inception of the contest in 2010, one of the winners is African – and black. 17 year old Nji Collins is the first black person, African and Cameroonian to win a Google Code-in contest.
Nji is in his final year at the Government Bilingual High School, Bamenda, Cameroon and he participated in the Google Code-in with OpenMRS; an open source enterprise electronic medical record system platform. This also marked the first time anyone from Africa participated.
Nji’s feat is much more remarkable when you consider that he didn’t have access to the Internet (the Cameroonian government shut down the internet in the English-speaking region, where he lives and schools) during the course of the contest. He had to travel to a nearby francophone town to submit his entry for the contest.
Nji will be travelling to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA to meet the Google Open Source team and other members of the Google Software Engineering team for a tour of Silicon Valley. Nji’s success is representative of the life of the typical black African – striving to prevail in an impossible situation.