A letter from Africa

Dear Djangonaut, Pythonista, friend,

Why might you not come to a DjangoCon in Africa?

Perhaps it’s a long way from where you are, maybe in Europe, or the Americas (or even further away than that) to Zanzibar. But, maybe it also seems further away than it really is - because while the idea of a DjangoCon in say Germany or California might be familiar, one in Africa is a completely new prospect. And maybe you have a good idea of what to expect from software communities in the west, but African ones are completely new to you.

Let’s start with Zanzibar itself. In many ways it might not be so unfamiliar. It’s a very popular tourist destination; hundreds of thousands of people visit each year. It’s a safe place, used to welcoming visitors, where nearly everyone speaks English. It’s rich with history and culture and natural beauty, and beaches, on the edge of the Indian Ocean.

These are the things that most visitors come for, and if you’re visiting, you should certainly include some time before and after the conference to discover some of them. (When you get back home, the answer to the question “What did you see in Zanzibar?” should not be “Mostly the inside of the conference venue.”)

To help you see things in Zanzibar in a way that hardly any tourist ever will, we have planned an introduction and orientation day for our first day, to discover Zanzibar through local eyes.

As well as English, as already mentioned, we have another language in common: Python. We don’t want you to come as a tourist. We want you to come as a Pythonista. You’re part of the community already, you just haven’t got here yet.

What about the software community you’ll meet here? Probably, many things about it will be very familiar. As programmers, Africans build applications, have opinions on software architecture and bang their heads on their keyboards sometimes, and generally do all the things that you do too. The topics and preoccupations of the conference will be familiar too: technical internals, better ways of doing things, diversity, sustainability. People with preconceived notions might be rather surprised to discover the depth of skill, knowledge and experience in African software.

Some things will be different - for example, you might also be surprised to see how many women are present. Africa tends to do very well at including women in its technology revolution. You’ll discover localised problems, often social ones, that people are using Python and Django to solve in inventive ways - technology making a difference to people’s lives.

The team behind the event might also be more familiar than you think. They include the organisers of four successful editions of PyCon Tanzania. They include two different long-serving DSF board members - a former President and a Vice President - and organisers of multiple PyCons and DjangoCons. The event has the support of organisations such a the Django Software Foundation and DEFNA.

You’re in good hands and you’ll see some familiar faces - we’re here to make your African Django experience a really good one. To help, we have started to put together some helpful information for travellers and we’ll be adding more in coming days.

If you love going to Python community events and discovering the places that host them, this conference will probably be an experience with new dimensions. And if you’re an avid traveller, you will find real magic not just in being somewhere like Zanzibar, but in being part of a DjangoCon there.

Whoever you are, you’re going to come away with new perspectives, on Africa, on Django, Python and open-source software. And you will have been part of another step forward for all of them.

Your friends,

The DjangoCon Africa organisers