Youth of the month- Tambe Tabitha Achere

Community building is key in implementing sustainable social progress. Our youth of the month works to build a thriving community of tech enthusiasts in Buea. This goes a long way into encouraging more women to venture into the tech space or understand ways in which technology can make their work easier. Her name is Tambe Tabitha Achere and she is the lead of Women Techmakers Buea.

First, tell us a bit about who you are? 

I love Jesus. I like tasty food. I like live band music. I believe in God. I am a teacher of the Word. I am an Engineer. I am the ambassador of Google Women Techmakers Buea. In 2020, I graduated from UB’s Faculty of Engineering and technology with a First-class Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with a specialisation in Power Systems Engineering. I thrive in competitive environments; I like when my team wins. I like wearing high heeled shoes and I enjoy building and coding embedded circuits (Arduino). During my time in school, I learnt how to code in C and then Python using books, videos, online courses, and lots and lots of mentorship from the Silicon Mountain community. Also, I got the honour of being voted in as the first female president of the Electrical and Electronics Engineering students’ association (EEFSA). I enjoy coding a little more than I enjoy building circuits so after school, I have switched careers to Data science. I enjoy teaching (without the logistics of setting exams and marking papers). I read a lot. I am intrigued by machine learning, psychology, and the Business world. My name is Tambe Tabitha Achere.

You are the lead for Google Women Techmakers Buea an organization which works to build visibility, community, and resources for women in technology in Buea. Tell us your journey to becoming the lead.

During my time in school, I joined several tech communities including Google Developers Group, Elite programmers club and Facebook Developer circles, and I attended many events. I did not have any expectations because I considered myself a junior since I was still in my first year of university, until one day that I realised that I was no longer in year one and the year one students (some of which I had taught in MIA preparatory classes) considered me their senior. I then evaluated what progress I could show, if any, from all the previous events. That’s when I started taking learning code seriously. I could not afford to be the senior who couldn’t defend her title [Sometimes my catagelophobia pushes me forward].

One day, a friend and I approached then lead of WTM Buea (Shafack Amanda) and told her that we did not just want to show up and attend ready-made events, we want to be there when the events are planned. I became a volunteer with WTM Buea, then and organiser and after a while, I was chosen to take over as ambassador.

What motivated you to commit to this mission?

 I like standing in large, magnificent buildings. They make me feel small. Women Techmakers has given me the opportunity to contribute to a cause bigger than me. The purpose of my work as an organiser is far bigger than me as a person and I like that. For decades, there has been an active movement to include women in technology and keeping WTM Buea active and together is a comparatively small, though significant, task with respect to such a longstanding movement. 

However, I do not think that all life’s decisions are made based on some deep-seated thoughtful reason; they should be, but they just are not. I took up the role as WTM lead because I knew that it will be fun, and it has been! Sometimes, people ask me big questions like “What can we do to make more women come into/stay in tech?”, and “Why do women not like tech?”(we do, by the way), and people expect me to give a one-stop answer whose implementation will suddenly make everything alright, but I do not know the answers to these questions and that sometimes makes me sad. Each time the big picture looks blurred, I think of the individual progress that each of us is making and how we are helping each other in the community, and that makes my work as an organiser worth it. 

What specific challenges did/ do you face in running the WTM Buea branch?

 I will talk about these challenges as a wish list:

  • I wish that we could give laptops to people who show up to learn. During events or after events, several people have not been able to follow through because they do not have a laptop, or their laptop is faulty.
  • I wish we could sponsor internet subscription on demand for members who need it.
  • I wish we could do hackathons that last all night while still feeling safe at the venue.

What current plans/projects does WTM Buea have open which our readers should be aware of?

 Developers’ festival is coming up before the end of this year. It is one of my favourite yearly tech events. Look out for that. There will be tech talks, demos, fireside chats and so much fun.

Tell us about some of the achievements you have had with WTM Buea and as an individual which you are most proud of.

 WTM members have won competitions and honours academically, gotten into prestigious fellowship programs, and some have even gotten recognition at work. One of the wins which made me happy was when I was notified that one of us was a finalist in a continent-wide Blockchain competition. We consider every member’s success our own. As an organiser, the event that I am most proud of is the Pathfinder event which we organised in February. It was an original idea, so there were no guidelines on how to go about it. We included modules for people at all levels of the tech journey. 

I liked the Pathfinder event because the presentations were so good back-to-back, we had some women giving demos and technical talks for their first time, we had some other more experienced developers who poured out their experience into their presentations, I really enjoyed the TensorFlow code lab which I attended as part of the event and the turnout was amazing. So many people came, we had to keep looking for chairs to give until at a certain point, I did not have a place to sit anymore. I appreciate the zeal, the willingness to learn, that our community has. Shout out to the organising team (Breder, Nelly, Jenniline), the volunteers, and all the speakers that have been so kind to us!

What are your ambitions?

 I want to be a point of reference in one tech field. I want to know the systems so well that I can change the way it functions from the base. I admire expertise.

What do you think our Cameroonian youth need to know/do to be the Better Breed?

 Read a lot. Find something; one thing, two things at most, and be good at it. Study the Bible. Be guidable. Pray.  Expect good. The world is a beautiful place; Opportunities abound.

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