“You are always playing games; can’t you think about building your own games so others can play yours too?”
Those were the words of Basil Okpara Sr when he scolded his son, Basil Okpara Jr for spending too much time playing games.
Okpara Sr was angry when he uttered those words, but little did he know that his son, who was then only 7, would take his words seriously.
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Today, at just 9 years-old, Okpara, from Lagos, Nigeria, has built over 30 mobile games, according to a report by the CNN.
At the time of filing this report, the young tech genius was building a hide and seek game, using a free programming application called Scratch 2.
Scratch 2 enables users to create games, animations, and stories online or offline. It is through this application that Basil has built his mobile games.
After showing interest in learning how to make his own games, Basil’s father bought him a laptop and registered him to learn the basics of building games.
“I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored,” Basil told CNN.
In March, his father signed him up for a five-day boot camp for children aged 5 to 15.
Organised by Codefest International, the camp was to create awareness of emerging technologies among children, using virtual reality, computer programming tools, robotics tools and Internet of Things (IoT) tools.
At just 4, Basil, who wants to be a scientist in future, was already getting abreast with some of these tools, his father said.
“I bought him a tablet when he was 4 years old because I saw that he was always grabbing phones to play games with. He played Candy Crush and Temple Run a lot,” the father said.
His interest will later skyrocket when his father reprimanded him for playing too many games.
His games are, at the moment, titled based on what they are about and can only be accessed on computers that have Scratch 2 installed.
One of the games, Frog attack, will, however, be made available to the public on Google play store later this month, his father said.
Basil is among a number of exceptional young people who have broken the status quo and achieved the unthinkable in technology.
In 2016, Nji Collins Gbah of Cameroon became the first African to win the prestigious Google Code-In competition.
Gbah was one of 34 winners around the world to win the grand prize despite the partial internet shutdown in his country. Two years after, a 10-year-old South African girl, Karabo Matlali, built and developed a moving robot.
Matlali, who was introduced to coding by her parents, used two months to build the robot and said she had to consider many variables such as the weight and length of the robot in order to give the correct instructions for it to move.
This May, Ghana presented an all-girls robotics team for the senior division of the World Robofest Championship in the United States and they won the topmost position by beating teams from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea and dozens of others.
Named Team Acrobot, the nine girls from the Methodist Girls’ High School in the Eastern Region of Ghana dominated the 10 broad and challenging categories of the championship held from May 16 to 18 at the Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Southfield, Michigan.
Coding, which is basically the computer language used to develop apps, websites and software, continues to catch on with many African children who are using their knowledge to create more innovations.