+BarCamp Accra ’13 took place this Monday 23rd December, 2013 at the World Bank. The BarCamps are organized by GhanaThink in various locations and the Accra edition happens to be the first I’ve been to out of the 28 they’ve organized so far.
The long and short of the BarCamp idea revolves around bringing people with the aim of developing Ghana together to network and discuss prevalent issues. The theme for this year’s #bcaccra event was “Exercising ethics to engineer excellence while fighting corruption in Ghana”; a very long and almost verbose way of saying, “how we should fight corruption”.
Since this was my first BarCamp in Ghana, the experience was new and I would love to write more about GhanaThink and BarCamps, but justice has been done to it here, here, and here. I shall however give my undiluted version of the #bcaccra experience, after all this is my blog, where I can talk my personal shit. (A more constructive review shall be available on VivaGhana later). I shall divide this blog post in various sections, if not; I would allow myself to rant way too much.
Finding the venue proved a headache for the first 1 hour or so upon my arrival in the heart of Greater Accra. I had chartered a taxi to take me to the “+World Bank”, he took the fare and assured me that he knew the location very well.
From the event page here http://barcampaccra13.eventbrite.com, I knew the actual location was on the 8th extension somewhere at Ridge in Accra. Long story short, the driver drove through the early morning traffic to the World Trade Center, it seems he mistook my “+World Bank” for “World Trade Center”, I am sure all he heard was “World”.
Being a Microsoft enthusiast, certified technician and partner, I resorted to Bing™ Maps for directions via GPS, it turned 8th extension wasn’t even available on it. I pulled out my Lumia device hoping to get better luck with their Here™ Maps. I found the 8th extension alright, but it was far from the World Bank, I ended up somewhere between Atlantic Computers and the WAEC center.
Finally, I turned to Google Maps®, and I must comment the local map maker enthusiasts, they have done an awesome job. In less than 15 mins, GMaps’ GPS Nav System had me at the World Bank.
I arrived just as +Kuukuwa Manful was introducing the speed mentoring session. Basically you get to meet a mentor in a field you are interested in, have a few mins discussion and hopefully take something from it. Considering my varied interests, I couldn’t decide on a single mentor and ended up mentoring some guys myself in app development.
I however caught up with Mr. Sangdu later, who encouraged me to send him an email later. (I however lost the address, and I do hope, Ato Appiah sends it to me like promised).
During speed mentoring, I also played the game of matching Twitter/Google+ handles to faces, ‘twas quite easy as many people had put their handles on the name tags provided. There was a small breakfast break, and frankly, I can’t recall if this was after or before the speed mentoring session. What I do remember is, I was playing gentleman and ending up taking coffee without milk. (This was however not a fault of the organizers, I can tell it is very hard to know how many tins of milk you need to put down at a serve-yourself-tea-party)
The panel discussions saw me in a room with +Kinna Likimani (where else would I be) and Nhyira Addo (who has decided to call himself “GHRainMaker” on Twitter, all because of _____) The discussion revolved around corruption and saw some very candid talk from both panel leaders, but it was to me just another talk about corruption (I had been to 7 earlier in the year).
The breakout sessions saw me go into frenzy, there was a personal branding session led by Jemila Abdulai, another on mobile app creation by +Jojoo Imbeah. I couldn’t decide which session to go for, but I finally decided on the mobile apps session as two of the people I had pseudo-mentored were in there, and my love for code was more than for marketing.
We made progress on creation of an app to combat corruption, (keep it on a down-low, it a hush-hush from the mischievous police). The second set of breakout sessions saw me dividing myself between Kinna’s “Creative Writing” session and Edem Kumodzi’s “Internet Security” session.
BarCamp Accra was an “awesome experience” as that seems to be the general catchphrase being used on social media to describe the experience. I saw it as a better to connect with people who share similar or same visions are yourself and network with mentors in the fields of your choice.
However, it will never forget that it was at my first BarCamp that I took coffee without milk and bought a way too-large-for-me t-shirt.