This one na collabo: A cross-disciplinary hackathon to solve the Welcome to Nigeria problem.

TL;DR: Sign Up for the grand finale for a Hardware competition that was inspired by Twitter trolling. It holds tomorrow at 1pm GMT

Late last year, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún (I no type am na ctrl + c; ctrl + v) basically lamenting the fact that Nigeria, a nation so rich in languages, would welcome people to the country, exclusively in a language that is not among its over 350 languages and dialects.

I thought to myself, “you dey complain give people wey relegate their culturally rich traditional weddings, for the bland white wedding.. anyway, onto the next thing to lament about”. 

I moved on

Then I came across many tweets by folks that ranged from trollish and totally cluless and clownishabout the importance of the issue being raised,

to understandably pessimistic about how it could be solved : “If we choose X language, Y tribe will get offended.

This particular exchange was the best of the lot. Bloody hilarious.

But I was frankly irritated, so I decided to respond not only to show solidarity but also steer the conversation to be more solution oriented.

But I thought this would be an opportunity to “get back” by perhaps solving the problem.

Then I remembered, I am quick to rally people, but finishing isn’t my strongest forte. This time around, I thought to do something different: collaborate BEFORE action.

I knew the problem lay in the intersection of linguistics and (hardware) technology. The missing piece was hardware. I found a way to rope in those I think could make this work.

I publicly conditioned it on Chuma – who runs Hardware Things, and Kọ́lá joining in.

I wrote a brief, shared it with them and all was good to go.

We split the tasks.

  • I’d seed the competition via TechCircle with $1000.
  • Chuma via Hardware Things would organise the competition.
  • Kola via Yorùbá names would help us with Linguistics support, providing the language texts for the teams to work with.

Chuma then got support in cash from Future Africa to the tune of $500, as well as $1000 from two other people in the ecosystem, in-kind support from PCB Way (who will be manufacturing the circuit boards and shipping from China for free) and secured a partnership with Techcity.

The competition was announced in February, and over few months, the teams came together and working remotely, were able to put stuff together.

And now we have reached the end of the competition where one of  three finalists will take the prize. 

Team 1 – Station Mode: Dara Obademi, Rilwan Saliu, Racheal Akinsiku.

Team 2 – Wazobia 3: Adeboye Oyeniyi, Oluwasegun Adedigba, Olaoluwa Raji.

Team 3 – Super Display: Abdulkadir Ishola, Emmanuel Okunlola, Michael Ikirodah.

Why did you not just buy a screen, attach it to a computer that runs a script and be done with it?

I had a few thing in mind when this was initiated

  1. Showcase the hardware chops that Nigeria(ns) have. Hardware hasn’t got as much love as software in Nigeria. The “hard” in hardware no be mistake. So I hoped this will draw attention to our talented folks.
  2. I believe there is great value in cross interdisciplinary collaboration when using technology to solve problems.
  3. Encourage ourselves to a solution mindset when we encounter problems that have been articulated. After the gbas gbos, I think this is a great way to elevate intellectual discourse and action.
  4. Finally, if we are ever going to be an industrialised nation, we must produce stuff and if it means we start from basic stuff, so be it.

Anyway, it is all done and we have three teams competing for the winning prize: $1500. 

How can you help?

  1. Register to attend the finale which holds tomorrow 2nd of June 2022.
  2. Contribute to the prize pool and Hardware development in Nigeria by contacting Chuma of Hardware Things
  3. Do you have any contacts at FAAN? We would like to put the final version of the winning entry at the international airport.

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