African Press Association
Owethu Okuhle Mtya

Musician OhGooch closes digital literacy divide

Owethu Okuhle Mtya

Owethu Okuhle Mtya

JOHANNESBURG – FROM humble beginnings in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township where he was the only child raised by a single mother, Owethu Okuhle Mtya, has grown into one of the most inspirational youth of his generation.

He has combined his love of music and science to inspire South Africa’s youth.

Popularly known as OhGooch, he has endorsed Africa Code Week, the continent-wide initiative aimed at sparking the interest of African children, teenagers and young adults in software coding.

OhGooch has trained more than 1 500 students over two years as part of his work for Africa Code Week.

“About 400 of those students had never worked on a computer before,” he says.

“The fact that they left our training, not only knowing how to use a computer, but also as Level 1 Scratch Coders, is amazing and inspiring to me.”

He points out that in the township, many of the kids’ role models are gangsters.

Thus, itroducing them to coding at a young age shows them a different perspective and help them to visualize a better future.

“At some of the schools I visited during Africa Code Week, the teachers would warn me about certain students that may misbehave in class,” says OhGooch of the recently-concluded Code Week 2016.

However, those maligned as difficult ended up being the ones who paid the most attention and seemed the most interested in class.

“This just showed me how coding can open the minds of youngsters to aspire to achieve more than they have dreamed of.”

OhGooch was also offered the opportunity by Africa Code Week to contribute his music to this year’s initiative.

He joined SAP, who created the initiative, on a Train-The-Trainers event to Botswana last year.

“After the training sessions, we visited the country’s salt pans, and I was struck by their beauty and mystery.”

OhGooch is now a qualified sound engineer, singer, producer and musician and is deeply passionate about science and education.

“For as long as I can remember, I was part of the Cape Town Science Centre family,” says the multi-talented figure.

“My aunt Busi worked there since I was 10 years old and would take me with her on weekends and after school. I would wander off and explore all theexhibits.”

By the time the Digital Hippee musician was 13, he had become the youngest volunteer at the Cape Town Science Centre.

His interest in coding started after watching ‘The Matrix’ for the first time.

“I was seven years old and the green numbers on the screens in the movie fascinated me. Someone at the time told me that is coding, but I didn’t have access to computers, so my interest lay dormant until I was invited to be part of Africa Code Week in 2015.”

– CAJ News