In 2004, after 7 odd years of me practically fooling around at the ‘University of Ikpa Road’, my classmates miraculously graduated and were proceeding for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) — without me. It felt like the beginning of the end. I knew I had a bunch of incredibly smart course mates, but I also knew (thought) they were graduating with a practically worthless Engineering degree or ‘cerfiticate’ as my people often call it.
I made a conscious decision. This was not the beginning of the end for me. This had got to be the end of the beginning.
It dawned on me that I was definitely not going to make a 1st Class. A 2nd Class Upper was a long shot, virtually impossible. I decided I was going to 1 up my friends/classmates by acquiring a certificate that was worth more than their ‘cerfiticate’. GSM was booming, there were lots of infrastructure projects going on around the country. CCNA was the rave of the moment. I had more than 8 years Windows XP-erience of formatting hard drives, installing Windows 98, Me, 2000 and XP; device drivers, Norton Anti-Virus, Norton Ghost, ‘car-racing game’, ‘football game’ etc. I could get on a night bus from Uyo to Lagos, head straight to Computer Village (I’m sure Cheta and I must have crossed paths on numerous occasions back in the day), ‘couple a CPU’, buy monitors (both branded and fairly-used/Belgium). I was also an ‘expert’ in ‘cybercafe networking’, installing ‘EasyBrowsing’, VisualBasic 6 (this list could go on and on…)
I faced CCNA — Cisco Certified Network Associate certification.
I faced CCNA. I heard CCNPs (Network Professionals) and CCIEs (Internetworking Experts) were cashing in and cleaning out in the UK and US.
I faced CCNA. This was both my ticket and my visa to Jand and/or Yankee.
I faced CCNA. I forgot about competing with my mates and then decided to face my greatest adversary, who also happened to be my strongest ally — myself.
3 months after printing, spiral-binding and cramming Todd Lammle’s Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide (640–802), I smashed my CCNA — 97%. Or so I thought. I later got to find out some (many) people do get a 100% in the test. Till today, I still console myself — it was ‘me vs me’, not ‘me vs anybody’. I had competed with and against myself in November 2004 — roughly 12 years ago. I had come home.
Now, to what has happened in the 12 years since 2004, and what I intend to have done 12 years from 2016.
12 years after 2004, I lead Developer Relations in West and Central Africa for Google. Across 48 African countries (the Region formerly known as Sub-Saharan Africa), I am responsible for Google-led communities — Google Developer Groups (GDGs) and Women Techmakers (WTM) — as well as Google’s relationships with the broader developer communities (BDCs) in the region.
And while I honestly don’t hold any grudges against them, and I abhor the reference to some of the brightest minds in our technology ecosystem in Nigeria as ‘repats’, I also had to go search and get that extra to help me get a chance.
“No, I Didn’t Just Get Back, I came home to myself”.
“No Sheriff, don’t go home. Come home”.
“You are right. The Nigerian tech ecosystem is a family. Come home.”