Back to Code. Wazi

Idd Salim was many things to many people:

original thinker. Coder. Controversial Twitter big wig who raised storms the moment he stepped onto your TL; even in death his following continues to grow.

Often changing profile user names, it’s interesting that his last one was Disappearance Act, kumbe he’d disappear for real. And the last bio: “All previous system problems fixed. Initializing system reboot …” Like Savvy Kenya, “Oh, how I wish he’d reboot.”

Twitter   Search    iddsalim

To me he was a man of confidence, high work ethic and talent. A lethal coder.
Salim made me want to be a better artist.

In his last post regarding the Kenya tech industry, he wrote:

It is ok. Really. It is. We will all be fine.

Of course, ‘fine,’ in this case means being able to afford rent, fuel your car, buy a few drinks at some lounge and buy a new phone every  month or so. We are fine.

But when the meaning of ‘fine’ changes to being ‘world-beaters,’ being ‘the best,’ being ‘the Hub, in it’s purest definition,’ we are far.

As partner at Symbiotic, Mbugua Njihia writes, “You had to know him to know him.”

Photo credit | Ciku Gitonga

With son. Photo credit | Ciku Gitonga

Below, some tributes written when he passed on, by a few who knew him.
It’s a year since. Salute.

Our paths crossed back in ’97 as rabbles at Starehe Boys Center. Razor sharp wit and going for the jugular on the written word endeared him and his blog – Thus Spaketh to thousands (his blog), yet a super chilled out guy in spoken word, a perfect ying and yan  – Mbugua

He put his heart and soul into anything he did. He pursued his dream. I loved the way he would say “back to code. Wazi” – Potentash

Hardened IT professional and concepts creator using Unix (FreeBSD) and Linux (Debian) Systems. Salim, has been described as no-nonsense by fellow bloggers, created, which focused on ICT. A Ninja coder, a beautiful soul, techie, friend and father… – Humanipo

He was lead developer at Wajibu Platform at Xema Labs. In his LinkedIn profile, he wrote: “I want to affirm myself as an African programming and hacking guru and then uplift the apprentices for the general good of the society. – The Epoch Times

[Before he passed on , Salim had started a COFST (Code on full stomach) program to help coders cater for basic needs, so they could concentrate on code]

He Made my hardest of work look like Hello world..When I wrote a query and it run at 1 sec he rewrote it and it ran at 0.16 seconds. When I called him and told you to start using Fedora instead of Ubuntu he pimped his Ubuntu and made my fedora look like windows XP

–  jaymo

 I have known many coders in my life but Idd took it to a different level. For him coding in many ways was like a game. He enjoyed doing it and was never the kind, to hide the fact that he was good at it. I recall the time I called him to work on BAKE Awards voting system and he told me jokingly that I should stop bothering him with things he can do in his dreams. Well, he came and did the job within 30 minutes. His passion and drive to create something new using a computer was unmatched.

He wasn’t a hacker but often pointed out the security flaws in most systems in Kenya. Safaricom’s  Mpesa was one of his favorites. I remember him saying at one time that he was banned by Safaricom from doing business with them.  That changed with time and I think that ban was removed after Bob Collymore took over – Kachwanya

The fact that the coder charged over Sh10,000 per hour for some jobs, with a set minimum hours, shows that he knew his stuff. Idd Salim ran a personal blog,, where he mostly wrote about IT related matters, with words any layman would understand.

He was never shy to give his opinion. – Nairobi Wire

No, he was never shy.

How to complete a software project in Kenya   Thus Spaketh Idd Salim

Screenshot of post on Thus Spaketh Idd Salim

Our best coders are not producing any apps. At all. At least not to the public. Where the app matters. I am not talking of m***** or mJinga types of kindergarten Apps. I am talking real Apps that interact with 100, 000 people daily/weekly. And make 2 bob from each. Why?
Adolescent coders, on the other hand are churning apps and web solutions daily.

Becoming over-night Kenyan code celebs. We see them all over the newspapers and TV. Big titles. CEO. CTO. Inventor. Geek. Techie. ******.

Of course, having been a hobbyist coder for 12 years now and a ‘professional’ coder for a little over 3 years now, I can speak with authority as to why the only Silicon Africa will be getting, anytime soon, is Silicon b***s. Not Silicon valley.


How to complete a software project in Kenya   Thus Spaketh Idd Salim2

Screenshot: How to complete a software project in Kenya – Thus Spaketh Idd Salim


On the coarse language:

I met Idd Salim a year ago, yes, I am one of the few that will inform you that he was not the douchebag he portrayed himself to be on twitter. He is kind, friendly and brutally honest… (this was not always welcomed but appreciated in the end). Then again, I also thought of him as a douche before I met him – Ciku Gitonga

Our first interaction was online, and I commented a lot on his hard hitting posts (with analogies that bordered on the misogynistic). However in person, Idd Salim was different, softer, gentler, kinder. He had his dreams, and he blogged about them. In his second last blog, he wrote: “Chase your dream. Daily. Daily. Chase it…

For all he was, all he did, all he aspired to do, I will remember him most for his dreams. Becoming a USD Million techpreneur. And chasing that dream. Daily.  – Savvy Kenya

Long followed his career by way of his blog. Met him in Starch as a rabble. He was very confident and enthusiastic about the tech world and one of the people who I knew would do well for themselves as he was driven, passionate about coding and had the guts to succeed. I envied you Salim for living your dreams when I was too afraid to live mine. You shone bright, you lived by what you believed and you were a true success story. Your code lives on.  – Old Starehian (comment on Mbugua blog)

One day, we will understand why. It took a lifetime to invent this man, three days to disintegrate him, and 23 hours for us to find out. But Idd did not disintegrate like you would think, not in principle, he was a soldier. Soldiers don’t disintegrate.

As young as he was, he had lived 1,000 lives. For every hat he wore, he told a different story. For everyone he challenged at pool, he was always going for the win, but there is more to him than just a fun lifestyle mixed with the hubris of African drama.

He knew the poetry of code. He was by far one of the greatest coders that ever lived and you could never take that from him.  – Kahenya

But get a window of who Salim was in his own words, the young boy from Isiolo who attained a place at Starehe Boys’ Centre, in this Q & A. And only Salim could tell a hiking story like this. I know. . .

Salim was brought down by a brief bout with TB, probably diagnosed in the advanced stages.

On this first year commemoration, let’s celebrate this techie by getting his domains up again. That’s the least that BAKE can spearhead really. Immortalize his thoughts on the industry.


3 thoughts on “Back to Code. Wazi

  1. Pingback: I was here | Conversations

  2. Pingback: Social Media and the Law of Succession: A Kenyan Scenario | CIPIT Law Blog

  3. Pingback: Two brains – the curtains close | Conversations

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