Python in Africa

The African Python movement is one of the most exciting things I have ever encountered.

PyCon Namibia

In 2015 I helped organise PyCon Namibia.

It was the first African PyCon outside South Africa. We spent four days in talks and workshops, and it was a wholly new experience for everyone concerned. I haven’t missed a PyCon Namibia since then.

Of all the events in the open-source software calendar, it’s the one closest to my heart.

More African PyCons

PyCon Namibia was back the following year, and this time the attendees included visitors from other African countries.

Anna Makarudze and Humphrey Butau travelled from Harare (a gruelling 33-hour minibus ride in each direction). Aisha Bello represented the Nigerian Python community. In 2018, Noah Alorwu travelled from Accra.

Ngazetungue Muheue - Namibia

Jessica Upani - Namibia

Humphrey Butau - Zimbabwe

Anna Makarudze - Zimbabwe

In each case, it proved to be the springboard for a new PyCon, and further community-building.

Anna and Humphrey helped organise the first PyCon Zimbabwe, Anna did the same for PyCon Nigeria, and Noah for PyCon Ghana (I got to attend that event, in 2018).

Aisha Bello - Nigeria

Abigail Dogbe - Ghana

Noah Alorwu - Ghana

Marlene Mhangami - Zimbabwe

As well as building their own software communities, these individuals and their colleagues have been noticed further afield for their contributions, as speakers at international events and participants in distributed projects such as Django (Anna for example has served on the board of the Django Software Foundation for several years, and now its President).

Pythonistas in the desert, Namibia 2020

Holding these African software events has also drawn in many visitors from beyond Africa, making a huge difference to the profile of African software development, and building valuable connections.

There are not many initiatives that - year-after-year - bring together international speakers and authors with African high-school pupils, and have them attend each other’s talks and workshops and sit at the same table for lunch.

Berhane Wheeler and Harry Percival

Kandoza Shituna and Geraint Palmer

Windhoek Technical High School pupils

PyCon Africa

Not least of the outcomes of all this effort and activity is the sense of kinship and connections across African open-source software communities that has been fostered, leading up to PyCon Africa.

This was the first-ever pan-African PyCon, and took place in Accra in August 2019 - 323 attendees from 26 countries, for a five-day event.

Next

COVID-19 took a lot of the wind out of the sails of African Python events. PyCon Africa 2020 was held online, and we decided to pause the event for 2021 and 2022. The first DjangoCon Africa was due to have taken place in October 2020, but that too has had to wait for a more appropriate moment.

But, PyCon Kenya 2022 in May was the first African Python event since the pandemic struck, and PyCon Ghana 2022 is scheduled for October.

And more will follow!