PASSION BEHIND NOHATA’S CODING JOURNEY
Imagine going undercover to conceal your age just to land a deal doing something you are very passionate about? Sounds more like a movie than real life, unless you’re Nohata Seven. But who is Nohata Seven?
Creator of a Malawian based social media app called mikozichat.com and web developer for some of Malawi’s big entertainment and businesses: sonyezo.com, QuickBooks.co.mw, thofudiagnostics.com, smarthr.com, mikozinetwork.com and onesimusmuzik.co, all at just 18 years old and without attending IT school. He also develops mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
Born on the 12TH of April 2001, Nohata Seven first started coding using his mum’s android phone at 11-years-old. He remembers his obsession with mobile phones and music downloads from Malawi Music. He was in awe of how it was possible to upload and download music from a website like Malawi music, this curiosity sparked his interest in web development. With no one around him with concrete knowledge in Information Technology, coding to be exact, he resorted to getting started on his own. His pocket money for school would go towards buying data bundles to research information on Google, on his quest to understand the technology behind uploading and downloading music from a website.
As you would after discovering an exciting thing, Nohata shared the news about his interest in coding websites with his friends who laughed at him in disbelief. Whilst this might be the part most people would give up, Nohata was decided to take that as a push to challenging himself to learn.
After buying one gigabyte worth of data, he recalls spending almost 24 hours experimenting with an app he found on the internet. Finally creating a basic website with the function of uploading and downloading, he used Facebook to test out his first ever website and after a while of no responses from people, someone contacted him and expressed their interest. They had the idea to take on the role of using Facebook as a tool to get artists to send their songs to the website. Knowing his website was basic and not very professional looking, Nohata was surprised with the influx of responses from people making him more determined to spend more time learning, experimenting and perfecting his coding.
School became a drag, with Nohata looking forward to home time just so he can rush home and use his mum’s phone to code. As the website started to take shape, looking more professional, more people begun to send their songs to him to upload at a fee of K300 per song. With the money earned from uploading songs, Nohata would use that money to get more data to grow his knowledge about coding regardless of the people around him trying to convince him his pursuit would not lead anywhere.
A year later and still determined to hone his web development skills, he contacted a web developer after seeing an advert to help him achieve his goal. Expecting the price to be cheap, Nohata was surprised to learn that the training would cost more than he had imagined: K150,000. This fueled him on to make more posts on his existing website to reach more artists, so he could also increase the value of his services. Then he had the idea to create a Facebook page with a different identity which led to landing his first major website development deal with Nde’feyo at 13 years-old. After expressing their interest, Nde’feyo and Nohata arranged to meet. Knowing that because of his young age, they might not take him seriously, he convinced one of his older friends to pretend to be the website developer whilst he pretended to just accompany him. Fast forward to sitting through meetings and finally developing a website Nde’feyo was happy with, Nohata felt a great sense of achievement in creating a quality website at the time.
For mikozichat.com, Nohata says he combined the different features of Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp to create an app that would allow people to share posts, send messages and share VNs on the wall.
With his friends laughing at his dreams of coding websites and creating mobile apps, Nohata didn’t disclose to his parents his new interest nor that he had used part of his school fees to buy a domain through a friend he had met online. One day, skipping school to collect a payment, his father decided to go to the school to settle the outstanding fees balance only to discover his son was not in school. Coincidentally, Nohata was contemplating coming clean about his fake identity when his father confronted him about the matter, displeased with his son’s decision to skip school as would any parent. When Nde’feyo realized that Nohata had been the mastermind behind the web development, they were still impressed with his work. They spoke highly of him to his father, encouraging him to invest in Nohata and push him further in his passion for coding, citing that it would lead to many opportunities for him.
Still, the tension between Nohata and his family continued. His teachers, friends and family were not supportive, he was labelled “a failure” because his academic performance was not up to standard. He recalls not being the best student and is thankful for being true to himself and pursuing something that captures his attention and grows his self-confidence.
The idea that simply attending school and getting an education is the only guarantee of a successful life or stable job is slowly disintegrating especially here in Malawi. We are starting to see more young people creating employment for themselves and others by starting their own businesses.
“If I wasn’t so determined and passionate about coding, I would have given up a long time ago,” Nohata says. His advice to parents is for them to spend more time with their kids so they can find out what they like and are good at. He stresses on the importance of families being support units in the same way they support their children through education, they should also support their passion and dreams.
Nohata’s family is slowly coming around after seeing the tangible results of his focus and consistency; feedback from clients and his growing business. At 18 years old and now living in Lilongwe, he noticed the difference in responses between his friends in Blantyre and those in Lilongwe. In Blantyre, most of his friends and the people that surrounded him saw him as a failure, whilst in Lilongwe his new company of friends were calling him a “genius”, a word he never thought would be associated with him. But he sees himself as a “geek” with a vision to grow and expand his web and mobile development empire as far as he possibly can. He tries his best to strike a balance between spending time with his friends during the day and spending his with goals of coding specific webpages.