Coding in African languages
Tapiwanashe Matangira, a Harare Institute of Technology final year student, has translated Zimbabwean tech innovation–literally.
Matangira is the founder and creator of KODHI 123–a graphical user interface generated in Shona to teach computer programming in local vernacular. The creation and introduction of such a system could help Zimbabwe leapfrog technological development in Africa.
Tapiwanashe Matangira was inspired by tech documentaries that were showcased on the national broadcast television channel ZTV at a tender age.
Having watched robot making and seen the technological advancements taking place in other countries, he set himself on a roadmap to accomplish similar success. This drive led him to the creation of KHODI 123 after he observed some challenges software development students faced in Zimbabwe. These included syntax comprehension and basic understanding of programming concepts such as variables, conditionals and looping. Students would be forced to cram basic concepts deterring them from becoming problem -solving orientated programmers, as that is the main aim of any software developer.
KHODI 123 is a graphical user interface which has simplified and made it easier for any individual to learn and understand the basic concepts of computer programming–he has isolated the language barrier. To put the icing on the cake, the graphical user interface is generated in Shona–a local language and can be altered to any language spoken in different countries. With this great step more individuals are able to get on board and begin to learn computer programming regardless of the language one may be more comfortable with.
Some of the challenges Tapiwanashe Matangira encountered in the creation of his program include direct translation of the Shona language from an English-based programming system, financial constraints and basic project management issues. For example product marketing and end product distribution were difficult. These are common problems to all start-up initiatives in Zimbabwe.
Tapiwanashe Matangira dealt with the problem of product evaluation and end product approval from national authorities as resources and expert evaluators are not readily available. Lack of market data as far as what products are in demand and how creators can ensure the public receives products that will assist in their everyday life were also concerns.
The main aim of initiating such a life changing and socially impactful invention Tapiwanashe said “is to introduce my program in every school in any language to help young children in schools”. This is a strong message as the youth of today determine the state of our future as a continent.
He will continue to work on projects that have a massive social impact. WATCH THIS SPACE–this young innovator is making strides and we are deeply proud of him.