Thursday, November 11, 2021

Humphrey Butau Awarded the PSF Community Service Award for Q4 2020

Humphrey Butau, web developer, PSF fellow, and PyCon Zimbabwe co-founder was awarded the Python Software Foundation 2020 Q4 Community Service Award.

RESOLVED that the Python Software Foundation award the Q4 2020 Community Service Award to Humphrey Butau. Humphrey is the co-founder of PyCon Zimbabwe and was an early member of the Python community in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is a PSF fellow and has been stewarding our local community for a number of years. Humphrey is also a great speaker and has given talks at many conferences including keynoting DjangoCon Europe, speaking at PyCon Namibia and PyCon Italia.

We interviewed Humphrey to learn more about his inspiration and work with the Python community. We also asked Anna Makarudze, a close associate of Humphrey, to share more light about Humphrey's community efforts and impact on the community.

The Origin Story

What was your earliest memory of how you got into tech? 

I got into tech as an IT Help Desk Support and Technician. While doing this job, I started to learn Visual Basic for building applications on my own. 

A friend of mine later introduced me to Python in 2010, and I continued to teach myself programming.

I later gave up as I didn't manage to make headway since I was doing these things on my own, and there were no other peers from whom I could get help if I got stuck.

It was only in 2015 when I got a scholarship for an online Python and Django course with Treehouse that my coding journey continued in earnest.

What was your earliest involvement with the Python community?

In 2016 Anna Makarudze and I applied for and got financial assistance to attend PyCon Namibia in Windhoek. Although the financial aid was not enough to cover all our expenses if we took a flight to Namibia, we overlooked all that and took the alternative of a bus ride of 30 hours from Harare, Zimbabwe, to Windhoek, Namibia.

Attending PyCon Namibia was more important for the Python community and us in Zimbabwe at the time. It was an opportunity to learn from the international Python community.

We attended the conference, learned a lot, and met key people active in the global Python community. I am forever grateful to the organizers of PyCon Namibia 2016 as I believe it sparked the "Python revolution" in Africa, with PyCons in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the first PyCon Africa Conference.

The people as a source of inspiration

What drives and inspires you to volunteer your time and resources to the PyCon Zimbabwe and the wider Python community?

It is the people!

What motivates me is what comes out of meeting people who share the same interests as me. The conferences, workshops, activities, and events are a huge platform for sharing information and building oneself career-wise.

It is also heartwarming to hear people mention that their attendance at a Django Girls workshop encouraged them to pursue a career in programming.

How has your involvement within the Python community helped your career?

By being a member of the Python community, I have discovered so many possibilities that I might have never realized. I have learned a lot from the events that I have attended, and this has helped me have a clear picture of various roles that I can pursue.

In 2019, I landed my first role as a software developer. I am sure this was possible through my involvement in the Python community.

Coming from being a hobbyist programmer without Computer Science, my employer was willing to hire and mentor me.

How has Covid affected your work with the Python community, and what steps are you taking to push the community forward during these trying times?

Before March 2020, we were already facing challenges as a Python community in Zimbabwe.

Covid-19 came and poured cold water on the steps that we were already taking to address these challenges. For the past one and half years, we put aside plans to hold in-person events as we put the health and well-being of members of our Python community first.

We are currently discussing plans for holding virtual events and the improvement of the Covid-19 situation in Zimbabwe. We hope to get back to hybrid events in 2022.

Impact story by Anna Makarudze

As early as 2015, Humphrey had the vision to start a Python community in Zimbabwe to raise awareness for Python, a relatively new programming language in Zimbabwe.

It is because of Humphrey's leadership that we were able to bring PyCon to Zimbabwe.

Many of our community members, including myself, are working remotely due to Humphrey's work.

I also got involved in community work like speaking at DjangoCon Europe and DjangoCon US, running PyLadies Harare for a few years, and becoming Django Software Foundation president because of Humphrey's work.

There is no doubt that many of us in Zimbabwe are in the global Python/Django community because of Humphrey's vision of starting a community in Zimbabwe.

The Python Software Foundation congratulates and celebrates Humphrey Butau.