Harare, Zimbabwe Hosts Its First WordCamp

photo credit: Limbikani Soul Makani Kabweza

WordCamp Harare, the first ever WordCamp in Zimbabwe, was held over the weekend at the Harare City Library. Harare was selected out of 182 applicants as one of the three locations for the WordCamp Incubator Program. The experimental program launched in February 2016 with the goal of bringing WordCamps to new locations around the world where local meetups may not be as well established.

WordCamp Harare was successful at connecting the Zimbabwean WordPress community and introducing the attendees to the concept of a WordCamp.

“It was a great day because we met lots of people who are passionate about WordPress and building stuff on the internet,” Limbikani Soul Makani Kabweza said in his recap of the event. Kabweza is a contributor at Techzim, a Zimbabwean tech publication that runs on WordPress.

“As Techzim (and the other startups we work with like Soccer24 and Pindula) the internet is our lifeblood, so a day dedicated to discussing internet platforms and how to do things better was the amazingly enriching experience we expected it to be.”

Co-organizer Charles Muzonzini, who works as a web and mobile app developer with The Computer Society of Zimbabwe, said, “WordCamp Harare 2016 was an awesome success, far exceeding my expectations. Everything was on point and I’m glad to have met so many great people and learnt so much. This is hands down the best IT conference this year.” Muzonzini is also a co-organizer of the Harare WordPress Meetup, which now has 82 members.

Job Thomas, who works as an Education Vanguard at Automattic, traveled from Cape Town to speak about WooCommerce at the WordCamp. In a guest post for the event Thomas wrote about the importance of open source for the empowerment of Africa in removing hindrances for becoming successful.

“It is great to see WordCamp Harare happening,” Thomas said. “WordCamps are not primarily events for communicating ideas – although this plays a big role. WordCamps are primarily a celebration of the open source community; they gather people with a similar passion for making the web a better place.”

WordCamp Harare was the fourth WordCamp held in Africa in 2016, joining events in Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Cape Town in the expansion of the WordPress community in southern and eastern Africa.


11 responses to “Harare, Zimbabwe Hosts Its First WordCamp”

  1. I can’t express enough how grateful we are to WordCamp Central for giving us the opportunity to have our first WordCamp. We had awesome speakers, we learnt new things, and we had tons of fun! I, personally, have met some great people with whom I hope to have long-lasting relationships with. It’s great to be part of the WordPress Community!

  2. Good to see those economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the EU and the USA starting to bite.

    Also good to see the WordPress community standing up to these kinds of dictatorships.

    Oh wait …

    North Korea next year?

      • I would have thought that with 182 applications to choose from that picking the country that has a long standing record of human rights abuses and one that is subject to Worldwide economic sanctions is at best clumsy and at worst crass, irrespective of your own personal views about open source software.

        I too would like to see a thriving community in North Korea, it might divert their minds away from nuclear armageddon and hacking their neighbours computer systems. Who knows maybe Assad might stop murdering his own people in Aleppo if he felt the warm glow of a Word Camp in Damascus.

        Why not give a spin next year and see what happens.

        • James Harvill,

          Instead of what happened in the past, why not spend the present to change the future?

          Change has to start somewhere. Ignoring a country does no good. People need to learn what happening in these places.

          US and it’s allies have been accused of some not so nice things in the middle east.

          Do we want to go to every country/region that can be accused of doing things?

          I was born in a country that did that, my country and next door country really hated each other.

          Most of these countries with bad human rights records is because of the government leaders and not the people themselves.

          Open Source could be the light of home for many of these people. So many of these countries governments censor what outsiders see.

        • I don’t think you realize what you are saying by advocating for collective punishment. There are bout 12 million Zimbabweans including myself and it would be grossly unfair to punished for the things, words and whims of a few higher ups. Should Americans be criticised for the extremly offensive things Donald Trump says? I would like to believe the US, and Zimbabwe for that matter, is bigger than a few crazy people spouting hateful things.

          For the record having lived under sanctions for more than a decade I have to say they are the most stupid idea to bring about change. They, and isolation has not stopped “them” from driving around in posh cars and doing as they please. About the only real impact I can see is that for some reason I cannot sign up for SitePoint nor can I receive payments via PayPal. With their illgotten wealth “they” can easily bust these flimsy restrictions. I know for a fact that they do business with the US despite laws and provisions like ZIDERA.

          Meanwhile I am thankful for FOSS. I use Ubuntu and WordPress to earn a living unlike my unemployed friends (with a 90% unemployment self-employment is your safest bet).

          The WordCamp will hopefully spur more people to join the online revolution and help bring our country out from the cold. Personally I am going to build on that by writing introduction to WordPress tutorials on our local TechZim blog.

          May the odds be always in our favour.

    • @James, what is your solution then? Just let the people in Zim suffer further?

      There was no political agenda whatsoever in WordCamp Harare. I saw a lot of enthusiastic WordPress users who are keen to get involved with open source, while at the same time trying to make a living.

      Economic constraints are inflicted on national governments, or because of those governments, but ignoring the people living under those constraints in non-governmental settings is just not a nice thing to do.

      Open source software is one of the best tools for empowering people in difficult situations. I’m thrilled that WordCamp Central chose a country with a challenging economic context. The fact that the international WordPress community acknowledges the Harare community and is willing to invest in it, was received as a sign of hope.


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