When I did this interview 9 days ago, I had no idea that I was interviewing a 17yr old. I discovered him on the net via a site where I saw webdevelopers being rated, I saw he had very good ratings and had good turnaround times, I also saw he was Nigerian, and decided to check him out. He showed reluctance to being in limelight (reminded me of myself growing up). We discussed it and he finally agreed.
He is a young guy, and he is doing well for himself. I believe this will be a lot of encouragement for young people and older people who need a little prodding to go ahead and start now, it’s no longer early, but today is the earliest it can ever be! He already has a footprint in today’s global market. You can catch more gist about him on his blog. I like his passion for developing himself. If we apply same to our lives, we’ll surely make a difference.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:20:53 PM): Well, I know you as Azuka, guess that’s your aka. Can you please introduce yourself, your background and what you do?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:22:24 PM): Well, I’m Azuka Okuleye. I’m a Computer Science student — and a freelance web developer
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:24:32 PM): Ok. My key contact with you was on the web, where I saw a lot of high ratings for the works you have done. Can you tell us something about these?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:28:36 PM): I’m still much of a novice and shy away from large projects — mainly because I don’t want to leave security holes in other people’s applications. My work ethic is that I take on each project as if it were mine, and stay around long after the work is finished to see if my clients have any poblems with any previous work. Let’s just say I’m genuinely concerned about delivering good work.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:30:07 PM): Thats interesting. Sounds like customer intimacy. you want to be responsible for the results. Can you tell us what you have worked on that you are very proud of?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:35:11 PM): On freelance websites [where I usually get my work from], the jobs are usually subcontracted out by webmasters who got the job somewhere else. In most cases, I’m not allowed to add the website to my portfolio. In any case, there are two personal applications I’m proud of because I worked on them myself — ExamDirect, a web-based examination tool. It was my first experimentation with Ajax. I’m a writer on the side so I also wrote Authware to allow others read my work. I haven’t been publishing anything on it because I’m overhauling the codebase — rewriting it from scratch, that is.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:36:59 PM): Hmmm…interesting. Where and how did you learn all these. I have a feeling you are not resident in Nigeria, was that so from the start? Were you lucky or did knowing all these and being able to use it come from concious efforts?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:47:05 PM): When I started working in a software development company, I spent my entire salary on books. I guess that’s what makes me different — I love books, and find it easy to learn from them.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:47:51 PM): …
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:49:02 PM): I stayed home for a year because of the JAMB UME and I decided to come here to the US in January this year. Since then I’ve spent even more on books — I couldn’t get many of them back in Nigeria. Now my room is full of books and I’m thinking of shipping some back to Nigeria
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:50:04 PM): Wow, so you only just started programming this year?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:51:19 PM): this December would be two years of programming. Like I said, I started programming in 2004 [that was December]
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:54:06 PM): Ok, great, so you had started programming here before you travelled. Now I want your honest opinion, what will you say are the factors that have given you the advantage you presently have? What things can anybody do and be able to create an opportunity for themselves? I know many people who are regularly complaining that they have nothing to do – even after graduating from school.
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 3:58:45 PM): I have never once doubted my ability to succeed — I think that’s my strongest point. When I face a problem I just keep at it forever — or until it goes. My advice would be to do what one loves without thinking of the monetary aspect. I’ve met some people who want to learn web design simply ‘because there’s money in it’. My question is always,’Does it interest you?’
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 3:59:12 PM): hmmm go on…
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:01:02 PM): the funny thing about complaining is that while doing so you aren’t looking elsewhere. If there are no opportunities, you can always create one. Now, I know this is difficult, but innovation works best. Find what you work best with and do it exceptionally well
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:02:43 PM): Someone might be thinking, “easy for you to say, afterall you are no longer limited by being in Nigeria”, do you have a response for people like this that think life can be on hold until they cross the atlantic?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:07:39 PM): I was just 16 when I started working in a software company, and I found it hard to get work elsewhere because of the Nigerian mentality. I’ll quote,’You’re too young to do a website.’ Even when I showed people my work, I was told it was ‘copy and paste’ which frustrated me to no end. There’s this myth of people outside Nigeria earning more — sure we do here, but the standard of living is higher. An example would be getting a haircut. I’d pay at most 80 naira in Nigeria — which isn’t even up to a dollar. Here, I pay $10 — N1400 — for a haircut. I won’t get started on the bills and taxes
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:11:29 PM): interesting perspectives, and real examples. I’m particularly tripped that you were interested in working at 16. Thats really good.
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:11:35 PM): I need to get some breakfast. I won’t be gone ten minutes. Do you mind?
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:11:46 PM): No problem..i’m here…buzz me when you are back
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:27:27 PM): I’m back
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:30:25 PM): So as I was about to say, your starting to work at 16 lends credence to your belief that no one needs to put their lives on hold in anticipation of greener pastures. What will be your advice to young people generally in Nigeria. What can people do to break free from their present circles of mediocrity?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:32:49 PM): you’re never too young to start out. I have a 14-year-old friend who writes applications in BASIC. I was so excited when he showed me his simple encryption-decryption program. It wasn’t fool-proof, but what matters is that he has the enthusiasm
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:37:06 PM): By the way, the guy I’m talking about is a Nigerian — I think he’s in SS2 now
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:38:13 PM): Impressive!
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:38:49 PM): I didn’t quite get your aspirations, you seem a young person, if I may guess early twenties. 10yrs from now, where do you envision you will be?
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:40:47 PM): I’ll also want you to share with us why you decided to look for a job at 16, did you need the money? Or was it just to improve yourself?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:41:51 PM): I’m just 17. I was 16 last year
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:42:19 PM):wow!
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:42:25 PM): I was very bored — I’d just graduated from secondary school and there was nothing to do at home. I got paid peanuts, but what mattered was that I had something doing
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:45:51 PM): 10yrs from now…
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:47:22 PM): oh — sorry
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:48:40 PM): It may surprise you, but I don’t have any clearcut vision for the future. I do see myself still learning, however. I’ve discovered that as I learn more, my aspirations change
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:50:26 PM): Hmmm, I hear you are not entitled to a future you cannot see, what do you think about this? I feel your plans can change but you’ll do yourself a lot of good, to have a target. Now you sure do have a target don’t u, I feel it’s not possible to be so enthusiastic if you don’t want to be different
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:52:57 PM): You have a point there. Let’s say my target is abstract — I might still be in the web business then, but I also see myself working with security — digital security.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:53:57 PM): good stuff…very good
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:55:47 PM): Are your parents there with you, how easy was travelling, and how has your experience away from here been?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:57:46 PM): I’m the only member of my family here. I hate travelling — I managed to miss one of my connecting flights by a minute because I was engrossed in a book. As for the experience, I’m used to being on my own — I don’t go out much or socialize so I really have no problems
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 4:58:22 PM): Do you intend to come back?
Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 4:59:54 PM): Definitely. Nigeria remains a largely untapped area and I sure do want to make use of the opportunities.
Adeolu Akinyemi (9/30/2006 5:01:26 PM): It’s been extremely nice inteviewing you Azuka, I know your story will be a lot of inspiration to young people and a hard push on older people. Z.A. Hymaka (9/30/2006 5:02:50 PM): Thanks