Cape Town-Based Ben Mmari Is A New Hacker Noon Contributor to Watch


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@nooniesNoonies

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Benjamin Mmari is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and has been nominated for as one of Hacker Noon’s NEW Hacker Noon Contributors To Watch in this year’s Noonies awards. In this candid interview, Benjamin Mmari shares his impressive portfolio of dev projects, approach to writing and blogging about the things he builds, and the personal concerns currently keeping him up at night.

1. Which 2020 Noonie have you been nominated for?

NEW Hacker Noon Contributor To Watch

2. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Tanzanian and was raised in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). Born on 11 March 1992, I am the 4th born of 5 children.

I studied Computer Science at the University of Cape Town and after 18 months of working at my first job, I quit in order to run my company, Simplimantis, full-time, with my long-time friend and business partner, Masharty Tembo. Simplimantis is an IT consulting company that focuses on building mobile applications.

While running Simplimantis we worked on a number of business ventures that we funded using the revenue received from our client-work. These ventures include Quweza – a data analytics platform for schools. Fleekly – an e-commerce platform for hair extensions, as well as Simpligive, a mobile app to facilitate payments at churches, primarily.

Running Simplimantis was a crazy ride, and I learned a tonne of invaluable lessons from it. Unfortunately, due to some clients failing to adhere to contractual agreements at a very critical time, we ran out of money and had to find full-time employment again.

Now I work at Zappi, an enterprise insights platform, as a full-stack software engineer, and over the past 2 years, I have traveled to our offices in The United States and The United Kingdom multiple times for work – which has had a significant impact on my world-view and perspectives on life.

I love making solutions that make people’s lives easier using software, and I also enjoy writing. And I often write blog posts and articles, with a focus on my own life experiences and technology learnings.

Some links to my blogs:

I also publish articles to online publications like onMogul, Linkedin, Thought Catalog, FreeCodeCamp etc.

I am an avid football lover and a long-time supporter of Manchester United.

I value family over and above everything else.

3. Tell us about the things you make / write / manage / build.

Write:

I love expressing myself and sharing my thoughts, opinions, experiences, and mistakes with the world. I am an introvert, without a doubt – so I prefer to convey my feelings via words on paper, instead of verbally, because it is much easier for me, personally.

I love receiving comments and feedback from my readers about how my writing has impacted their life, how they can relate and how thankful they are that I shared a piece of my life with them so candidly.

I have been writing since I was in primary school – I first started writing poems for a girl I was infatuated with, from Grade 2. These love poems then gradually transitioned to poems about my views of life and the world, and then eventually blog posts and articles about my thoughts, experiences, and opinions.

From a very young age I would walk around with a small book, a habit I adopted from my Dad. In this small book, I would jot down all my thoughts and feelings.

Build/Make:

I love making people’s lives easier using technology. From the first time I learned how to write code at the age of 15, I fell in love with the process and the infinite possibilities that come with writing software. For the most part, I am quite indifferent to the technology I use, as long as the end product is me building something useful, that other people will find value in.

4. What are you most excited about right now?

I am currently working on a new API project at work, building out a software service from the ground up in a new language (Elixir) and I am extremely excited to see it come to life.

5. What are you worried about right now?

I am worried about the impact that Covid-19 is having on my family. My young brother, Isaac, hasn’t been able to find a job since he graduated with a degree in Architecture end of last year, and is currently at home. My mother, who runs a school in eSwatini – has not been able to work for the past +3 months, and she has a lot of employees to support financially and very large business-related bills to pay off. Also, she loves keeping busy and I am worried that the inactivity is having a negative effect on her overall well-being.

I also don’t want anyone to get sick.

6. What’s the most useful advice you’ve ever given somebody?

Hard to tell – I think the people that I have given advice to, would be much better suited to answer this one better than I ever could.

But with that said, I think that my actions have served as implicit advice, and my act of sharing my life via my words would probably equate to the advice: “Live your truth” and I’m sure my readers, friends, and family can resonate with that greatly.

7. How has the pandemic changed your life and/or career?

This pandemic has made me further realize the value and importance of family because it has reminded me just how much I value, appreciate, and think about them.

At the beginning of this pandemic I ended a relationship with my then-girlfriend. The lengthy period of self-isolation allowed me to think deeply about who I am, who I want to be, and who I think I should be with. So it was definitely a catalyst in the whole process, which I am grateful for.

Career-wise?

The pandemic has made me realize how well-suited I am to working remotely. I always knew that I was pro-remote work, but this experience has further instilled this, because I do not miss going into the office, commuting often and wasting time in traffic.

Even being surrounded by people, is not something I am keen to do that often. I absolutely love my own space and living life on my own terms.

It’s also made me realize how much I value working at Zappi – the company I am currently based at – because it has shown me that this company is very well suited for me, my personality, my interests, and my values. Working remotely has shown how hard they try to keep us, as their employees, happy.

8. If we gave you $10 million to invest in one thing right now, where would you put it?

I’d invest it in family.

I’d invest in the education of all my nieces and nephews, I’d pay off any debts that we have (mortgages etc) and then I would ensure that everyone has a house of their own, fully paid off.

The remainder would sit in my investment current account.

9. What’s an opinion you have that most people don’t agree with?

Life is inherently meaningless, and once we die, we – as individuals – completely cease to exist.

10. Which app can’t you live without?

WhatsApp.

11. What are you currently learning?

Recently completed a course on Neural Networks on Coursera. Currently focussing on up-skilling in Elixir, and functional programming.

I’m always reading – my current books are Accelerate and 21 Lessons for the 21st century.

VOTE for Benjamin Mmari as Hacker Noon’s New Contributor to Watch in the 2020 Noonies before voting closes on 12 October! 🚀

Thanks to .TECH Domains, the winner of this award will receive a 5 year standard registration for a .tech domain. The 1st and 2nd runner-ups get a standard .tech domains for 3-yr and 1-yr respectively.

Sustany Capital.TECH DomainsGrant for the WebSkillsoftFlipside CryptoUdacity, and Beyondskills.

You can vote on as many awards as you like, but you only get one vote per award. 

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