Flutterwave – An Experience

I’d always wanted to be a developer. Growing up, I watched practically every computer-related movie/documentary I could find – from Pirates of Silicon Valley and The Social Network to Triumph of the Nerds and Revolution OS. There was just something about spending hours at a keyboard that fascinated me. Weird? I know. Nonetheless, such was what appealed to a younger Tofunmi Kupoluyi.

Almost inevitably, at the age of twelve, I started learning how to code. With school activities and limited free time, I sought knowledge online. Scouring YouTube and W3Schools, I picked up everything and anything I could find and in a matter of years had learnt a bit of HTML, Java, JavaScript and even PHP. I may not have been the best developer and oftentimes my code never really followed convention but it was what I liked to do. In a way, it was my escape from the monotony of school work.

Upon graduation from secondary school, I decided to take a gap year before going off to university. As with anyone taking a gap year, I was confronted with the unavoidable question, ‘what do I do?’ Well, in what seemed to me like a fairytale sequence of events, that question was answered. I was invited to intern at a FinTech startup, Flutterwave.

Now at this point, you’re probably wondering, ‘what is Flutterwave?’ No need to be abashed – I was too, when I stepped in on my first day. Still caught up in the haze of my offer, I walked in that day only knowing that they were into e-payment and yeah, I was going there to improve my code. What exactly they did and how they worked, I was completely oblivious to.

Soon enough though, I was introduced to their clientele and everything started to make sense. Their list of clients? Almost every company collecting online payments in Nigeria. From major banks and Uber (yes, the UBER!), to my own church, everyone was consuming Flutterwave’s APIs. Here, amidst the jokes and lax working environment, was a company redefining what it meant to make payments in Africa. In a small community-like office however, it wasn’t hard to forget the enormity of what was being done.

I soon settled into life as a Flutterwave intern. As days passed, I slowly started seeing subtle changes in my code. Elements I’d often trivialized like indentations and comments soon started appearing. I started including third-party dependencies, writing REST APIs and by my fourth week I’d built an online shopping mall system. More importantly though, the developer jokes started making sense and comments like, “Oh boy, my stomach is throwing exceptions this afternoon” all of a sudden didn’t sound so foreign.

By my sixth week, I started having business strategy meetings with Jim, the product manager. As we sat in the meeting room, discussing business plans and sales tactics, my thought pattern started to change. From ‘what programming language should I write this application in’, I started asking the question, ‘how does this application help people’. For weeks, I’d learnt how to debug code, but with Jim, I learnt how to debug business plans. It was no longer about application flow and syntax but now application usability and feasibility.

As I came to the end of my eighth week, I bid Flutterwave goodbye. With A-Level courses and university application deadlines, I had to go in search of the great perhaps. The lessons I learnt and the people I met in those Providence Street offices however, I will remember for a lifetime. I’m especially grateful to the developers I worked with in my time there – Femi, Deji, Gondy, Iyke, Ridwan, Remi, Obinna. I thank my handler, Gondy, most especially; his passion for his job and belief in my potential inspired me to keep coding even when my applications spawned unreasonable errors. In my two months, I was able to live out a childhood dream and for that opportunity I am eternally grateful to the founding members and the entire team at Flutterwave. Till we meet again, thank you.

The Queen By Tofunmi Kupoluyi

My best friend, my voice of reason,
Uttering advice in and out of season
There was no ceasing to the care she showed me
Bestowed for free, God knows what she sees in me
Why she believes in me, I don’t know
But it’s the reason I’m writing these words with so much ease
Oh yes, it’s her I try to please, so no, these words won’t cease,
The pride I hope to bring to you, just take it as my fees
Cus what I achieve is what you gave God when you went down on two knees
And prayed endlessly for your second born, yes it was you that caused these bees to pollinate my trees
So once again, my honor won’t cease for the one who always sees the greatness in Tofunmi,
Temi and Layomi,
She’s so beautiful, you heard of them African Beauty Queens
She’s the one on whom TK always leans, the one whose blessings he always dreams
And even when it seems, that those dreams may never come true, guess who never leaves?
Guess who still screams from the touch line when supporting our sports teams
And still screams when we’re not living up to God’s dreams,
Trust me, though you may be approaching fifty, you’ll always look like you’re still in your teens
You honestly don’t know how much it means to have someone there for the times you freeze
Who reminds you to breathe,
Who will continue to teach you all you need,
That’s why Mum, one day I hope to repay you for never relenting in grooming your little mustard seed.

The Science Student

I am a science student
But not your typical physics fluent,
Averse to amusement,
Lover of Newton

I am a science student,
But not your stereotypical nerd,
Against all things mythical,
Hypercritical yet hardly ever original,
Because though analytical, TK’s always been lyrical
With every ink stain, I demonstrate poetry at it’s pinnacle
Dream-killers can’t help but be pained,
Who said the next greatest thing can’t be an African miracle

Incredible, as I put pen to paper, I see a nation stand up and defy its critics
Observer by observer we’re setting new limits,
And each tribe’s in the credits,
‘We made it’,
A redefined Giant of Africa we created,
Against heresies dressed like prophesies,
We stood up,
To a united Nigeria we pledged and we rose up,
Our enemies, we choked up,
We called for our girls and they showed up,
The thieves owned up,
And our plight that was our light, well it took off.

I am science student
But if my lines can cause my people to line up,
I’ll keep writing, till the great examiner tells me it’s time up.

-Tofunmi Kupoluyi

Bullying in Secondary Schools: Causes and Solutions

Bullying, once thought only to be a spot of bother is now an endemic; the problem believed to be ‘western’ has, in a matter of years, gone global. Statistics from the Megan Meier Foundation (http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/statistics.html) indicate that about 64.5% of students surveyed in the National Crime Victimization Survey 2013 were bullied at least once in a school year, an astonishing three in five. The vice in severe cases has escalated up to the point of being a ‘cause of death’. Below, I’d like to briefly outline some causes and probable solutions to wipe out this occurrence.

“Home is where your story begins” – Annie Danielson

Jessica Laney, 16, Pasco County, FL; Joshua Unsworth, 15, Lancanshire, England; Erin Gallagher, 13. Unfortunately, these names are linked by more than just their deceased state. All were taken by the same vice – bullying, more specifically, cyberbullying. The internet is arguably the fastest method of communication. In a second, you can wish your brother in Kano, ‘Happy Birthday’, while sending wedding greetings to a relative in Northampton. Communication however can be as edifying as it is detrimental. While the internet prevails in disseminating useful information, enhancing knowledge, it also succeeds in spreading words that can degrade a being to a ‘thing’, unworthy of life. I believe parents, especially mothers should be more actively involved in the lives of their children. The idea of the ‘career woman’ should not overshadow the ideals meant to be instilled in the next generation. If we want to eradicate the immoral values which culminate in cyber-bullying, it must start from the home.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Fredrick Nietzsche

Society has stratified people based on several features- weight, popularity, attractiveness and in my side of the world, ‘the extent to which they have blown’. People often buy in to the lie that if someone is different, they are worthless. A typical coming of age movie features a ‘jock’ and a nerd. For years I’ve wondered why the nerd is always the one in glasses, the one who never has friends and ‘coincidentally’, the one being bullied. What many don’t know however is that a child does whatever he sees or hears around it; how else do you think a baby learns to speak. If a child sees the smartest person in class being bullied by the ‘cool’ kids, I honestly don’t see why he would not want to follow suit. After all, within a day of watching Cartoon Network, my little brother wanted to be Ben 10. With shows or movies put out for children, I believe censoring bodies should not just censor explicit content but also content deemed to influence younger viewers negatively. We say the family is the first point of interaction for a child, in a matter of years, I can assure you statistics will read mass media. If we don’t check what is being produced for the grassroots, who will?

“Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children.” – Albert Camus

Many blame bullying solely on the bully. However, sometimes unless you check the flip side of a coin you may never really know its value. In the U.S.A, according to Department of Health and Human Services, about 2 in 5 children in the country received a Child Protective Service response as of 2012. Those were the lucky few. In my country, we don’t have a recognizable body protecting children. As a result, our little brothers and sisters endure unnecessary hardships in the name of ‘tradition’. The abused become abusers, taking their anger out on the few they can overpower, trying to attain the flinting feeling of superiority. Though taking a child away from its parents may be painful, if nothing is done, innocent school goers may end up becoming victims.

In conclusion, bullying, especially at the secondary school level, has already taken the lives of many and is bound to take the lives of many more if some measures are not taken immediately. All parties must be actively involved in order to effectively curb this impropriety, make the students happier and in turn make the society a better place for all. Bill Maher once said, “It’s not that we don’t care–it’s just that that we’d prefer not to get involved.” Let us right that wrong.