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Life of a Kenyan Software Developer

godwillb profile image Godwill Barasa ・5 min read

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Here is a little context, My name is Godwill Barasa. I am a 23-year-old software developer based in Nairobi, Kenya. I live in Roysambu, TRM Drive. More often than not, when people during family gatherings, ask me what I do for a living.
Perhaps is the casual wear I am known for having after trying to go to my sister’s wedding with a hoody ( don’t worry it did not happen ). I am going to give everyone a picture of how a 23-year-old software developer based in Kenya undertakes his dailies.

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5:00 AM
I wake up at 5:00 am. I jog to my local gym which is not far from my apartment. I do a 40-minute work out with my trainer (who is also my neighbor). I take a shower at around 5:50 am and make breakfast which is almost always an egg, Bread, and Tea.

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6:30 AM
I put on some mood music usually something like 30 Seconds to Mars or a podcast. I browse my emails, check my LinkedIn for new connections. I do not use Facebook or Instagram because they make me anxious. I get why people employ social media managers. I am not inactive though, I try to post content to keep my brand on point.

7:00 AM
My meals are normally pre-packaged which is a pro-move since food prices near the office are pricy and tasteless. I pack them and then pre-heat them in the company kitchen. I take my Acer, Charger, and Notebook and throw it into my olive backpack. Earphones are also definite must-have essential.

7: 20 AM
I board a matatu bound to tao. It is almost always chilly and grey in the morning in Nairobi( however, it becomes hotter as the day continues). More mood music and a novel, right now am reading Harper Lees, To kill a mocking bird. Harper Lee believed to be one of the most influential authors to have ever existed, famously published only a single novel (up until its controversial sequel was published in 2015 just before her death). Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and became an immediate classic of literature.

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8:00 AM

On a good day ill be at the CBD by 8:00 AM. I would then check-in at the Jomo Kenyatta NCBD Campus, my university. I am a student class representative for my Bachelor of Business Information & Technology class. Make sure I have my schedule mapped out. I also water the plants at the reception, sometimes. The receptionist is a middle-aged woman who is so motherly everyone calls her Nana. I call my classmates and send them the days schedule on Slack and WhatsApp.

My university

8:30 AM
I’ll arrive at the office. I make a coffee for a little more energy. I take this time to assess my to-do app. I check what has been done and what has not. I also send work emails and alerts on slack teams. This is when I reply to other work emails that require further discussions. These issues are the ones which rise in the next hour.

9:00 AM
We have a scrum meeting with designers, project managers, sometimes the CTO (but mostly not). It is designed for teams who break their work into goals that can be completed within timeboxed iterations, called sprints, no longer than one month, and most commonly two weeks. The Scrum Team tracks progress in 15-minute time-boxed daily meetings, called daily scrums. At the end of the sprint, the team holds a sprint review, to demonstrate the work done, and sprint retrospective to continuously improve. Some good ol’ Software Engineering

9:30 AM
Problem-solving mostly( very little coding ) just trying to solve problems from a very high level of understanding. This is very important to me as it helps me treat my code as art. Very in touch with what is needed by the user or investor.

10:00 AM

Godwills Workspace

Godwill Barasa Set-Up, My purple knight
Id stack working on the code. My set up is a dual-screened monitor. I also have a very slow purple Acer, Intel Celeron. However, being a Ubuntu Fan-boy this does not lag at all for writing Javascript code. About Javascript, the stack we use is React.js, GraphQL, Gatsby, Strapi, or WordPress Headerless CMS. popularly known as the Jamstack. The Jamstack is not about specific technologies. It’s a new way of building websites and apps that delivers better performance, higher security, lower cost of scaling, and better developer experience.
Dev lives matter. Loose coupling and separation of controls allow for more targeted development and debugging, and the expanding selection of CMS options for site generators removes the need to maintain a separate stack for content and marketing.

I listen to Frank Ocean and finish what I had set out to do on that day as per the daily scrum.

1:00 pm LUNCH
Or gaming

Godwill Barasa and Steve on a gentleman game of FIFA

2:00 2 HOUR CODING SESSION
Also A short meeting with Human Resource, she says I might be exhausted from school and work. She gives me a go-ahead to work from home on Friday.

I love working from home. Roysambu is treating me too nice, I pay 15,000KES (150 USD) rent. It’s worth it, closeness to CBD, Security. Its also close to Andela ( I need Andela Merchandise, guys.) home of very cool tech events usually Saturdays. Very beautiful minds truly top 1 percent talent

Kinfolk

4:00 PM
I stop working on the site. Make notes on the day and start thinking of tomorrow’s sprint meeting. For now, I would open my Codecademy account and learn up to around 7:00 pm. Most people I have met have a problem with this, say I spend too much time at work. I use that moment to make sure am at the top of my game in web development. From dealing with JSON data from APIs to Querying data with SQL. I also have a data science course (but don't tell anyone)

Outdoor learning

I also have evening classes at this time so whenever am not at work, am in school.

7:00 pm
School Work. sometimes classes

8:00 PM
A matatu ride back to Roysambu. There are usually no jams in Thika Road at that time. It takes around 10 minutes. It costs around 60 bob and uber costs around 500 bob.

Famous matatu back home

I cook something and watch a Netflix series as I eat. I doze off watching cartoons by around 11 pm.

That's it. That's the story about the software engineer in Nairobi, Kenya

https://www.instagram.com/godwllb/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/gdwllb/

Discussion

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Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Thanks for sharing this, @godwillbarasa! It's always great to read about the daily lives of developers all over the world!

I also appreciate the Frank Ocean shoutout. His music has helped me power through many days myself ✨

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bonfacekilz profile image
the_savage

Great article @godwillbarasa . I really like how you balance your work, social(?) and school life. But like most places in the world, I'd caution for people not to generalize this to all Kenyan devs :). @godwillbarasa , do Andela host live meetings during this corona period? I'd like to get out of this cocoon I've found myself in ;)

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

The savage, if you are Kenyan, please share your experience. let's give our story to show the world what we are really about.

Cheers brother🥂 wakanda emoji

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Chris Anunda

As someone who is from Kenya its brings me absolute joy to see my country grow and its people explore, tunze, ndugu halisi🇰🇪👌🏾

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

My brother. Wakanda emoji Asante sana.

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botanical profile image
Jennifer Tran

Loved reading about a day in your life as a software developer! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading more! 😎

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Thanks Jennifer 🥂.

I appreciate you taking time to go through it.

Feel free to tell me what you might want to know. I'll do my best to share

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lukas1

You should drive the Van Damn matatu :-D It'd give you courage!

(For those unaware, I'm referencing Netflix'es TV Show Sense8: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense8)

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Haha, you are the OG. Have you been to a Nairobi matatu before ?

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lukas1 profile image
lukas1

not yet, but maybe one day :-)

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yellow1912 profile image
yellow1912

Thank you for sharing. I wish to visit your country some day.

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Godwill Barasa Author

Please do, I would suggest visiting Malindi, Mombasa, Kakamega and Nairobi for a day or two each. And Maasai Mara too.

Very beautiful and peaceful country. You will fall in love with it.

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Ali Mürteza Yeşil

As a Turkish, I agree with @godwillbarasa on beauty of Kenya. Kenya is where I learned my second mother tongue 😉 I unfortunately had to go abroad due to university.

I kinda miss spinach and ugali 😁

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huncyrus

It was quite interesting, good to see some goal determined person achievements and routines.
How things going on holiday and weekend? What about gatherings and group events at campus?

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Godwill Barasa Author

Pre-covid they were very many.

Mostly incubators, and Andela (you know the one sponsored by Mr. Zuckerberg). Also with the most vibrant tech scene ( Silicon Savannah), many companies like Microsoft love meetings.

Most companies with cool offices love to show them off😂😂😂.. There are a bunch.

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Godwill Barasa Author

About campus events, we have also have DSC ( Google's developer community ) and GDGs.

Clubs and societies.

But most students don't use them. But some do.

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tardisgallifrey profile image
Dave

Godwill, thank you for sharing a day of your life with us. It is interesting to see how others live and work. Many blessings and much success in your schooling and your work.

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Thank you Dave, I appreciate you taking your time to go through it. It means a lot.

Blessings

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Moses Gathuku

Thank you for sharing your story. Good story from my country.

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Asante brother. I appreciate your feedback. Looking forward to hear stories of other Kenyan developers.

Share yours ##wakanda emoji##

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Matthieu Cneude

That was a nice read, thanks for that! I always like to see how people live and work in different countries. Especially when I can't travel!

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Lynn Langit

Enjoyed reading about your day in detail. Great to see how you integrate continual learning and work every day too.

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P. Todd Decker

I love this! Thank you for sharing

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Thank you for your feedback

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Nderitu

Wow, your day is perfectly arranged. I like that!

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Remi Gathoni

Si your day is packed... Nice

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godwillb profile image
Godwill Barasa Author

Not so much, I also have frequent holidays, you know what they say, work hard, play hard

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maulik profile image
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Maulik

Nice and interesting article Godwill...
my first impression by looking at your first picture was...."it would be a sad or struggle story". Just one thing missing in your picture which is a smile. I scrolled a bit after reading first paragraph and I saw your second picture..and impression changed.
Thanks

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Godwill Barasa Author

Thanks Maulik , I'll smile more.

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Iamndeleva

Damn your day is so packed
But love the way you have shared the life devs go through..kinda same 😂