May 09 2008

the Death of an African Hacker

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 4:55 PM

One of my favorite Africans died the other day. Guido Sohne, a brilliant software programmer who worked for Microsoft in Nairobi, was found dead in his living room on Monday. People discovered him when he didn’t turn up for work. Guido and I go back some years; he was a close companion when I lived in Accra in 2003. Guido was witty and sharp and always ready to debate arcane points, either about technology or development. We spent many hours together and, when my teenage son visited Accra for a summer, Guido tutored him on computer games that bewildered me.

Guido was from Accra and had only moved to Nairobi late last year to join Microsoft. A passionate and principled person, Guido was well known in Africa’s small circle of programmers. Born in 1973, he attended Princeton University and returned to Ghana to work in computing. For some years he was a fixture in Busyinternet, the Accra web cafe founded by the Welch entrepreneur Mark Davies. Guido long promoted open-source software as a way of Africans gaining a stronger position in information technology, and his move to Microsoft was a large shift for him. His belief in the potential of a single smart African to change the world remains a source of hope for me and others who knew him. He was a singular person in the region and he will be missed.

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