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How I created and launched a website from the Internet café in Zimbabwe (munyukim.wordpress.com)
190 points by munyukim on Apr 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments

This is very humbling to read. I live in America, land of opportunity -- mostly taken for granted. I take for granted the freedom to jump on the internet at almost any moment I choose. I take for granted that I have constant access to a reliable power grid. I take for granted that credit companies want to extend me the ability to utilize a credit card. I take for granted that I have free access to a banking system. I take for granted that, since I work in technology, I can pick from a multitude of job offerings. I just plainly take for granted the fact that I had the fortune and advantage to be born into this land. Does America have her woes? Yes, as does everywhere. Your situation, munyukim, has created a stark contrast to what I have been afforded. I truly do respect you for what you have achieved with such environments and obstacles that you do face. Congratulations on a job well done!!

I second that. Sometimes we just forget how fortunate we are and how we take everything for granted. Congrats and a big thank you for sharing this with us, munyukim.

Thank you , it means a lot that you find the story inspiring

Good job! I really like the domain name.

Here a some ideas for improvements:

- It might be a good idea if you'd make subsections for different hiphop genres, for example one for zimbabwean hiphop (e.g. mixdem.com/zimbabwe). People can find you on Google this way if they can search for this hip hop from zimbabwe and you might become the go to place for this specific genre.

- Think about using more hiphop (ghetto) language.

- Make a logo. It helps for people to recognize/remember your site. It would already help if you just write the name of your site in a cool type face.

- It did not see a lot of comments on your site (none actually). This is very important for a community (look at Hacker News for example). Experiment with different ways to get more comments. For example you could put a text box on every page for people to leave a comment, even if they are not logged in. If they try to post a comment you could make them log in or register to post it.

- It might be better to embed the videos in the video section directly into your page instead of linking to a page which does. This way people stay on your site, instead of going elsewhere (same of the downloads if it is possible).

- Even though it's annoying, you could also put a frame on top of the page, when people click a link to another site. In this frame people could vote up the site or go back to your site to leave a comment.

- Maybe add a share on twitter / facebook for specific news items or videos, which people want to share with their friends.

- When I am on the page for a specific item I was expecting that clicking on the title would make me go to the site. It took me a second to see that there is actually a button "go to site".

I hope you find some of those suggestions useful. It is not meant as criticism.

please do not use ghetto language, that'd make my puppy cry :-(

Maybe your puppy is not the target audience ;). I think it would help make it feel less generic and more appealing to (some) hiphop listeners. I don't mean to overdo it just something like "I feel it" instead of "upvote".

haha, well, you might be right on that -- however, overdoing it might come across as insincere...

Thank you for the feedback.This is the most valuable feedback i have received so far on how to improve the site.I will work on the points you raised.

Thank you everyone ,i really appreciate all the positive responses .i never imagined my story would be on hacker news frontpage.

The space comes after, not before, punctuation like commas and periods. Just FYI.

Right. An example using your own words. You wrote:

"Thank you everyone ,i really appreciate all the positive responses .i never imagined my story would be on hacker news frontpage."

It would be better had you written:

"Thank you everyone, I really appreciate all the positive responses. I never imagined my story would be on hacker news frontpage."

Also, I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa during the apartheid years. I was lucky enough to earn an internship at Honeywell in the USA during my graduate studies, and now I live and work and have a family in the USA. Keep going, keep working, keep creating! Anything and everything is possible, the code you write has the potential to set you free, to uplift your society, to uplift humanity. Just keep going!

FYI: "for your information".

just updated the about page

Congrats! I've been told Zimbabwe has a pretty good education system despite its economic woes. Have to wonder how much talent is being wasted while Bob is in power.

I have a number of students from Zimbabwe who over here in the UK for 'political reasons' in my classes. I think once the country is back on an even keel, we will have to watch out.

Zimbabwe indeed has got one the most affordable education system ,no matter where you live there is a school easily accessible.Also education is the biggest employer .However its really hard a tertiary level to get the most out of your education because of the economic situation.

This is fantastic. I was in Tanzania last year and met a very cool kid without a lot of options. Orphan, no money, etc, but had a fantastic grasp of English and could definitely hustle. Tried to convince him to pick up programming as it seemed like the most accessible monetizable skillset available to him. Now I'll have something to give him to show it's actually possible. Thanks for sharing!

programming is definitely a skill which doesn't require a lot of resources, with a pc and decent internet connection, one can become very powerful.

"with a pc and decent internet connection"

Unfortunately, for many people in the world this, and as mentioned in the posting a reliable supply of electricity, is something that not everyone can afford or easily acquire.

There are many hundreds of bright young people (and older too) that I've met on my travels through small towns and villages in Asia and Africa. I far too often have thought that I wish I could give them a computer, internet, electricity, something to help them break out of their lives of unemployment, underemployment & poverty and engage in the wider world to make money to support themselves and their family. Even the seemingly basic solutions have far too many hurdles and levels of corruption to avoid.

might I ask how you ended up on those travels? job related or free-time? In either case: I'd be grateful for some details!

Some are job related where I've visited remote locations to check on resource sites or in conflict zones. Otherwise, I often go off the beaten track to find out what its like in remote areas. Originally for the landscapes, flora & fauna, now also to meet the people who live locally and to see how they live. Though I try very much not to be intrusive, exploited or voyeuristic about it, as I feel many westerners do that, still very much in the 19th Century tradition.

Its usually best to go on personal travel, though obviously more expensive and usually without a support network & connections that work often provides. For work or relief organizations it can be better, but you also may not have the easy option of leaving when it gets a bit dangerous, as can happen in some regions on very short notice.

thank you very much -- I'm still dreaming of somehow combining work and travel

Good job so far getting it up and running. Apply some kickstrap[0] and you will have a much cleaner looking website overnight. If you can get some better design going, your traffic should increase more.


Hey munyukim, really good site and story, i have a question and an offer: question: What is your plans for monetization? How do you plan on making money with this? Offer: Private Message me if you need help with then programming, i'll be happy to help (been programming in php/mysql for longer than i care to remember)

Very cool, Munyuki. Maybe it needs a "Translate to Shona" feature :)

I lived in Harare from 1986-90, long before I'd heard the term "Internet". It's really great to see Zimbabweans making their mark on the net.

Best wishes and luck, mate!

Congrats buddy! Shows that nothing can stop someone from creating good things. I'm not into hiphop but the site looks pretty well-made.

>Zimbabwe, Africa

Off-topic, but it really shouldn't be necessary to provide a continent when naming a country e.g. Japan, Asia.

> If you find yourself in a position like me ,don’t lost hope instead start a project and tell people about it ,it doesn’t have to perfect and use all the resources you can get.

Inspiring story!

I'm curious about the tech stack for mixdem. Was it forked from an example link aggregator, written from scratch, php or ...?

If you take a look you'll see it's php from the URL's.

I have so many tools at my disposal but have only a fraction of your talent and perseverance...Great job!

Thanks for sharing your story! I know a thing or two about building web crawlers and aggregators. Drop me a note and I could help you with some of the technical matters. Stay awesome and keep rocking!

I would like to learn about crawlers .My email is m.manatsa@gmail.com

Munyukim, I've had an idea similar to this in my head for some time. Your story is impressive, I'd like to speak more with you offline if possible. Can you send me your info? b@bdotwaller.com

How spooky, I was in Harare just two weeks ago for a friends wedding. The electrical grid only seemed to work for a few hours, however with a backup generator the Internet seemed reliable!

Wow no power during the day? That's awesome that you took advantage of the resources available to you. Your story was very inspiring, thanks for sharing and I wish you the best of luck

Fix your About page; ideally, it should say something about you.

Also link to your blog from your site.

Anyone know why the punctuation gets messed up from a lot of African computers? It is the best giveaway that a Cl emailer is a spammers.

Great job. I'm willing to help with the front-end design and development, free of charge. Just send me an email (find it on my hn profile)

Impressive story. Is it "the internet cafe around your corner" or "THE (one) internet cafe in Zimbabwe"? :-)

Wow, congrats! Thats a crazy struggle you have to go through- surely must pay off- just keep at it!

I was hoping the blog will have some links from times past, talking about how it was going.

Munyukim, excellent start! Keep building on your initiative, we'll be cheering you on!

Any chance you'd throw the code on GitHub for some critique? :)

Very inspiring story.

feel free to contact me @ m.manatsa@gmail.com

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