No problem, according to a 17-year-old African boy who used good old fashion books and his love for technology to win first place in an annual Google code-in competition. And the fact that his 1,299 other young adult competitors from around the world had regular access to wireless networks didn’t stop him.
Far from the hustle and bustle one might expect a master coder to live in, 17-year-old Nji Collins Gbah resides in a small, rural town far outside the capital of Cameroon.
Gbah’s hometown recently fell victim to alleged discriminatory practices from Cameroon’s government due to political unrest; the province his town is in was engulfed in the country’s chaos shortly after the first leg of Google’s competition. In retaliation for protests spearheaded by locals, the national government is said to have disconnected the internet in towns across the area, including Gbah’s.
Luckily, Gbah had completed the 20 tasks in the five categories set by Google when he became faced with the reality of no internet and no place to even study. His school had shut down due to the ongoing protests against English language speakers in the predominantly French speaking nation and there was no wireless connection at home.
So, after Gbah found out that he was a Google competition finalist out of thirty-four others, he strategized about where he could find access to the internet, something many of us take for granted every single day. The teen traveled almost eight hours to the capital, so he could stay on top of the game win the big prize.
His efforts worked.
“Hard work and writing a lot of code had really paid off” and “I was really, really amazed” by the experience, Gbah told the BBC.
The young winner received a four day trip to Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley as his prize. In the future, Gbah hopes to finish high school and study computer science in college.
Gbah’s win also helped bring light to what’s going on in his community, bringing life to the hashtag #BringBackOurInternet.
— Grace Adjeli (@nichinche) February 7, 2017
— Nvenakeng Suzanne A. (@NvenakengTFGH) February 10, 2017
— Siapaps (@lotta_wara) February 8, 2017
Google Code-in was the name of the competition and it was open to students between 13-17 years old.
Gbah became the first competitor from an African nation to take home the first place prize.
Other Must-Read Stories: