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14 years of computer evangelism

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Once upon a time, the Friday business section of The Daily Times graced Computer Talk column by Dan Phiri. I did not like the column; I loved it. As they say, good things do not last, one day Computer Talk disappeared from The Daily Times newspaper. It was a blow to tech junkies like me.

One day, the late amazing scribe, Jika Nkolokosa had the misfortune of running into my path. At the time he was the managing editor. I told him that I was still mourning the demise of Computer Talk. That was the day I knew that Jika followed technical content, just as much as I did. We were both bereaved.

As we parted, I joked that if BNL did not have anybody to “inherit” Computer Talk space, I could always do it at no fee. There was no way I could have believed that the Malawian Alex Haley would have been gullible enough to take me seriously. After all, he dismissed the whole thing with the rejoinder “a column thrives on longevity”.

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One day, Jika telephoned and in his usual beautiful linguistic chutzpa wrapped up in some melodious voice said: “Let’s do it man.” I said: “What?”

The short of it is that Computer Cross Talk debuted in the Friday edition of The Daily Times in August, 2003. It has been 14 years of computer evangelism.

Doing the column is the love of my life. This is the only time when I get paid for my hobbies.

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Back in the early days, I was very anxious about my audience. The thing is that no matter how beautiful a bird chirps, it does not make noise if there is nobody to hear it in the forest.

Over the 14 years, I have come to deceive myself that it is no longer in the forest. From the beginning, I made sure that I did not put a telephone number or e-mail address as a channel for feedback. Don’t ask me why; I never planned it. Today, I get feedback; however, people get to know my contacts, I have no way of knowing.

Computer Crosstalk is not about a techie on top of an anthill showing off technology prowess. It is a ministry; to evangelise. If I can entice one soul into computer-things, my work is done.

I wish to thank companies like IT Centre, National Bank of Malawi, FDH Bank, TNM, Airtel and many others who have had the audacity to make me believe that I was doing good work. Thank you very much.

Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) has been like some university to me where instead of billing the student for the education, the institution does the opposite; pays the student.

To the late Jika, this is what I would have said if he was still here, “for your sake, I made sure that Computer Cross Talk thrived on longevity”. Rest in peace Jika.

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