GDG AJAH THE ROAD THUS FAR.. A.k.a Chronicles of a fast growing developer community.

Samuel Okediji
Nov 19, 2018 · 9 min read

So it all started with a coffee conversation at Magic carpet studio, Imaginarium Nigeria. How I convinced the then CTO about giving back to the growing Ecosystem by allowing his workspace to be given out as home to a developer community on the Island. We did a rough estimate of developer friends living and working on the Island and we saw it was quite a number as we had teeming software / IT Solutions firms based on the Island, it was then rounded up to about 200 devs.

It all checked out as our goal was to have a program that houses developers atleast once monthly sharing ideas, networking and introducing and learning new Technologies. Myself, being a Back-end software engineering consultant with little idea of event planning, I delve into reading quite a number of books about growing a community. I consumed lots of YouTube videos about how to run a successful meet up, and pretty much from then on I felt ready.

There was no conflict on whose developer community program we did like to join as we loved all what Google Stood for coupled with the fact that they do have a developer community program named “GDG”- Google Developers Group was just perfect.

I forwarded an application for the opening of a new GDG Chapter tagged GDG Ajah in January 2018 and after an interview with a Google developer relations officer being ‘Lai at the time. Two weeks after the interview I got a mail containing an approval letter for GDG Ajah.

I was super excited about the opportunity and immediately I put a call across to some developer friends around of which 6 out of 15 I contacted had left the country for greener pastures. That did not affect my enthusiasm in any way as I pressed on. I made my first meetup post soliciting for speakers, and the Journey began.

Bursting with so much energy and being relatively new to the clime we commenced GDG Ajah’s inaugural meetup themed : “AI/Machine Learning Developer toolkits” in February the program was fully funded from my pocket as It wasn’t a Google Developer sanctioned event. Myself and my Co-organizer from day one Emmanuel Obute and invited couple of developer friends and an RSVP page was scheduled on meetup. It was an all-round event as we had hands-on as well as speakers like Ubi, simeon and Teju from AI Saturday Lagos come give an elaborate talk on Machine learning/Deep learning field of Artificial Intelligence -The full Intro. Before then I engaged the house about the new community that is GDG Ajah on the Island and what members should look forward to our growing community as well as the importance of smart positioning and benefits getting skilled up in Machine learning would have on many developers career in no distant time.

AI /Machine learning : Developer toolkit

I engaged SSA’s developer relations manager in person of ‘Lai and I must say he has so far been more than a mentor for our community. After reporting our inaugural event, ‘Lai gave series of advice as to how to run an engaging meetup also he provided timely contents and resources provided by Google Developers team that we could make use of at GDG Ajah.

After receiving some baptism of fire from one of SSA’s very own community enforcers. Just like Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai with the twelve commandments to the children of Isreal. Myself with the help of my very own Aaron in Emmanuel Obute (CTO Imaginarium Nigeria) scheduled to run two meet-ups in the space of two weeks, being Tensorflow Study Jam and the IO Extended events in the month of May and June respectively. Mind boggling? Tell me about it, I have just began to show you our small wins.

IO Extended 18 event.

“May your road, be rough” the popular statement made by Nigeria’s foremost educationist Prof. Tai Solarin of blessed memory, was always a saying I kept in my mind to that encourages me to take up challenges as there is always light at the end of the tunnel, but then when this saying showed me the other side of it’s definition in my walk to contributing my quota in building a teeming developer community in Nigeria as I had to joggle Projects deadline with my employers to hosting a truly worthwhile event, nevertheless always I find solace from the feedbacks members give about how resources we have been able to share as led them to gain new grounds in terms of skill sets.

Overtime I had understood what it takes to managing time and resources. I had one time travelled from Lagos to Abeokuta to Ibadan all in the same day, and I tell you community involvement coupled with personal work routines was all at play. Nevertheless “ we neva scratched the surface yet”. At a time, due to mad Lagos traffic I had to trek from Gbagada to Oshodi in order to board a vehicle 😭😭 going to my destination.

Was light present at the end of the tunnel for me?

Absolutely! Light truly came in form of a female Co-organizer in Blessing Ajibero, a developer big girl based on the Island as she joggles UK and Lagos from time to time, her organizational efficacies and smooth people skills landed us our most promising event yet the impact was huge as we had folks eager to use tools and services provided by the Google Cloud Platform . GDG Ajah’s Cloud Next 18 extended event really hit the nail on the head in terms of reaching our metric for success. At the Cloud Next extended meetup we were able to host speakers from various background in software engineering to come share their experience in deploying applications on the GCP. In summary we geeked about ease of usage, cheap servers and super-sayan Scalability performance being metrics that has given the Google cloud platform an edge over other Cloud architectures.

It has always being somewhat part of the objective of Google Software engineering team in creating products and tools that would make life easier not just for users but also software developers all over the globe. We were given a month worth of free Qwiklab credit in prepping up for using the GCP proper.

As if that wasn’t enough. We were thinking of short cutting DevFest as we are just a growing community. Jennifer Kohl’s (One of Google Developer relations manager) email came in. The mail content showed how DevFest is one of the Hallmark of GDG community across the globe and how both small and large DevFest event was welcome. I shared the info with my fellow organizers, and we agreed to give it a shot.

Who said hosting an event is easy? not to say a DevFest😳

Especially when your meetup is located at one of the uphill exquisite areas in Nigeria (Lekki-Ajah). Event centre’s were running circles around our budget and we were just like Hulk in the hands of Thanos in the Avengers.

Nevertheless our resilient Hulk spirit did come in handy as we were able to secure a venue with all the amenities needed to hosting an estimate of about 100+ devs. This pulled through with the help of partnership and constantly stating that we are a non-profit making community of developers.

DevFest Ajah 2018 was a blast!🎆Reasons to why DevFest Ajah was our biggest and most impactful meetup event yet.

Diversity

We succeeded in making diversity and inclusion a reality as this was seen during Talk1/Hands-on- Kehinde Ogunde’s session on Intro to Android studio. He partnered with Blessing Ajibero (Co-organizer|WTM lead GDG Ajah | @Imaginarium Nigeria)in delivering his session as Blessing handled the coding while Kehinde Ogunde explained every step in building a simple Android login app to newbies. This was totally unplanned and unintentional as it was an improvise to the initial talk as majority of devs present won’t relate to Kehinde’s initial planned Talk: Activity with Sweet Fragments Navigation. We had eighteen (18) female attendees at the event. We had devs from all religious and ethnic background learning and sharing their ideas and stories. This was a big win on so many levels when we look at it. 😁💪

The People

Attendees Surely! As a community that is barely 10 months old we recorded a total number of one hundred and thirty one attendees(131) at DevfestAjah 2018.

Having a whooping 18 female attendees, and also 1 female Speakers, 1 other female co-speaker. We had Adora Nwodo (Full stack developer | Google Android developer associate) whose presentation on “Today in Android: Building with Flutter and Kotlin”.

was nothing short of A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Nenne Adora Nwodo session on Today in Android.

You can learn more about Adora here, you can also check out her blog while you are at it.

Flutter Hackathon

We can’t but also talk about hosting the fastest Hackathon yet at least in our community . DevFest Ajah Flutter Hackathon lasted just two hours. Adesina Hassan emerged the winner of the Hackathon as he built a fully functional E-commerce mobile app in less than two hours (1hr:35 Mins)to be exact. Our super Dart king had something to say here.

Adesina Hassan at RHS speaking after DevFest Ajah Flutter Hackathon

LESSONS LEARNT THUS FAR..

I have been able to learn overtime that running a community involves people. Hence allocate responsibilities and resources to members when organizing events and see things run smoothly.

Hosting a GDG sanctioned event is important but having large percentage of attendees understand and flow with all that is being said by the speakers is Importanter 😁. You can do well to follow members up with online and offline resources to help their growth. We do these religiously at GDG Ajah.

I have so far also been fortunate to meet and work with great community loyalists such as Kehinde Ogunde (Android dev @Andela) , Rita Benjamin (Photography and event Coverage), Habeeb Hassan, Remy and many more. I can’t but also mention the sensational Bakare Emmanuel (DevOps enforcer) popularly known as the “Bakman” for his several inputs in promoting DevOps in this part of the world via the Google Cloud Platform.

In Essense

Being a big part of growing a developer community in your local region or area is a privilege and not a punishment. So try as much as possible to engage members especially newbies the more with a smiling face and an open heart, do answer their questions, guide them and share resources available to you. For without this members there will be no meet-up nor community.

Generally the journey to building world-class solutions as well as reaching world-class developer status starts with a community that provides the platform for learning, growth, exposure to cutting edge tools, sharing of ideas, resources, an all-round friendly and supportive developer Ecosystem. Also to seasoned developers we should also cultivate the habit of building problem solving solutions and do more to contribute to open source projects as these is the bedrock for impacting lives in our immediate society with what we do and not just about our financial bottom line.

We at GDG Ajah, believe we are just a small cog in a very large Machine that is the Google developers Group and we like to say in our indigenous pidgin English that “we just dey start and we neva scratch the surface yet.”

So watch out!

Samuel Okediji

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Back-end web developer| Linux fanatic |Ensuring Automation on the GCP| Pro-Distributed Systems| Tourist