Sowetan IT whizz-kid heading for Boston and beyond

By   |  June 26, 2006

Soweto youth, Domenick Khumalo, beat out over 1300 fellow computer clubmates to win a trip to Boston, USA, to take part in the Computer Clubhouse Teen Summit.

The 16 year old, who studies at the National School of the Arts, won the Intel-sponsored trip by showcasing his animation and graphics skills in a Clubhouse competition. He will jet off with 11 other winners from four South African Computer Clubhouses, in July.

“My topic was based on AIDS. I used characters from Soul City books,” says Khumalo. “People who can’t read can watch the animation and understand.”

He is excited about the trip, but is worried about the uncertain future of the South African Computer Clubhouse. Its primary backers, Intel, are slowly pulling out of the initiative as their four year, R3-million funding cycle comes to an end. The clubhouse, managed by the Youth Development Trust, is looking for new sponsors.

“Intel is packed up now,” says Khumalo. “There are 17 computers and there are 1 300 of us using those computers,” he says.

“Even the government is talking about the youth doing something for themselves, and we do it for ourselves, but we can’t get sponsors, or maybe we’re looking in the wrong places,” says Khumalo.

But he’s not resting on his keyboard. Khumalo hopes to attract backers in Boston to his business plan of developing a graphic design agency with the other two Soweto winners. “We want to sell this idea to them. We want to make our business cards before we go.”

An unrepentant Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Fireworks fan, Khumalo was introduced to the open source scene at a Tuxlab opening on June 16. “The [open source] software is great. It’s the don. The problem is I can’t experience it more because I don’t have a computer at home.”

Khumalo says after high school he’s going to study the unlikely duo of ‘IT and the composition of classic music’. “Business is like music; you have to find [the right] ingredients to make it work.”

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