Community Spotlight: San Emmanuel James

Kristina Gorr

At Mozilla, we have been cultivating a global network of web literacy leaders who are teaching and learning the most important skills of our age: the ability to read, write and participate in the digital world. Many people across the globe have joined us in this effort, and we are constantly inspired by how they bring their knowledge and experiences back to their communities.

San Emmanuel James

San Emmanuel James at MozFestEA 2015.

One of those people, San Emmanuel James, has illustrated this kind of impact by being an early pioneer for Mozilla Uganda, MozFestEA, and localization projects. We interviewed San James to learn more about his journey towards web literacy leadership. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your background with the web? With Mozilla?

Growing up, computers were not accessible to everyone, the internet was an even scarcer resource. I first interacted with the web during my high school vacation while I was waiting to join the university. My love affair with the web began when I joined the University to pursue a degree in computer science.

In my final year at university, we embarked on a project to localize Mozilla Firefox, then version 3.0 to Luganda, a local language in Uganda. At the time, we were introduced to Pootle and the translate toolkit by a team from Translate.org.za. The project was fascinating. It was exciting to do the localization and build the language packs. Mozilla Firefox in Luganda became an official build in version 3.6.

At the launch, we were joined by various guests including the prime minister and the minister of state for ICT. The Reps program and the Mozilla community in Kenya were still new. When they had about the launch, Alex Wafula led a team to join us at the launch and there after we talked about birthing a Mozilla community in Uganda. That was 5 years ago in 2011. I started the local community in Uganda and was the first Mozilla Rep.
Today, we have over 10 Reps and 2 mentors and over 40 active community members, plus hundreds of others who join us occasionally at our community events. From localization, we have contributed to other functional areas such as Webmaker, Womoz, Firefox OS, Developer Relations, among others.

San Emmanuel James

San Emmanuel James (3rd row from front, 7th from left) with MozFestEA 2015 participants.

What is your most noteworthy #teachtheweb accomplishment?

In its second year, I believe MozFestEA has been my most noteworthy accomplishment. MozFest EA has turned out to be a major launch pad for local innovations and a key platform collaboration and technological development. It has attracted the attention of local and foreign partners, as well as government. Participants come from across the region and beyond to celebrate the awesomeness of Mozilla and learn more about how we contribute to nurturing the open web. At the event we run a number of #teachtheweb sessions. MozFest EA has the potential to become the largest tech event in the region.

San Emmanuel James

San Emmanuel James speaks with a participant at MozFestEA 2015.

How are you inspiring others to #teachtheweb/join in the Mozilla cause?

By sharing my experience and the experience of others. The way we teach the web in Mozilla is novel and revolutionary in places like Uganda where learning is mostly theoretical and classroom based. Using, train-the-trainer approach and practical/illustrative learning techniques, I help new and existing community members increase their knowledge and learn how to teach others. Mozilla has a wealth of learning resources it has created over time and I have made it a point to bring these to the attention of the community members so they can benefit from it. I have been quite keen on teach.mozilla.org and developer relation resources I see impact the local community.

You can learn more about MozFest EA here, and the Mozilla Uganda community here.

Do you know someone that has made tremendous strides towards global web literacy or has made an impact through a Mozilla Club, classroom, or the #teachtheweb community at large? Share the story with us.

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