Every year, Google hosts a global online competition, Google Code-in, where teenagers between the ages of 13-17 years old, compete by completing small open source programming tasks. According to the Internet giant more than 1300 students from countries all over the world participate in the competition.
This year, among the 34 winners around the world, Cameroonian seventeen-year-old Nji Collins Gbah took home the grand prize, becoming the first black person to win the contest in its seven-year history. In addition to taking home the gold, Gbah also got an invitation to visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA and meet with engineers, in addition to a day of sightseeing in San Francisco.
Teaching himself to code by studying online and reading books two years ago, the ambitious teenager overcame overwhelming odds to participate in the contest. Gbah hails from Bamenda, the English-speaking region of Cameroon, where there has been a number of protests in response to alleged discrimination by the predominately French-speaking Government. In response to protests, the government shut down the Internet in Bamenda and surrounding areas, putting a halt to daily life, including causing schools to close.
“I wanted to get a connection so I could continue studying and keep in touch with Google,” the teenager said in a recent interview. Luckily enough, Gbah was able to travel to live with his cousin in Cameroon’s capital, an area that wasn’t affected by the shut down, to continue with his assignment.
With plans to study Computer Science, it is without a doubt that this rising young intellect has a bright future ahead of him!