This young Zimbabwean IT whizz is very low-key and not quite known in the public domain but has achieved so much for a person his age.
At the age of 22, Eric Khumalo was roped in by tech giant Twitter as a Software Engineering Intern. He worked for Twitter from 2016 to 2018.
However, his early life never hinted any signs that he would land an internship at one of the most attractive workplaces in the world.
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Twenty-seven-year-old Eric Khumalo hails from Gwabalanda in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and he was raised by a single mother. He is the middle child in a family of five kids.
His father died when he was seven years old, in his first year of primary school. Life was never the same.
Khumalo’s mother had to fend for her five children and she became a housemaid. The money she got from her job was not enough to educate her family, so she got them signed into a pro-poor government fund that pays fees for orphans.
It was while in Grade 6 that he got gifts that changed his life forever and sparked his interest in Mathematics and Science.
“The first was given to me by my uncle when I was doing my Grade Six in 2006. He visited from Botswana and brought me a scientific calculator, an atlas and a second-hand copy of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
The second and most heartfelt gift I have ever received was from my mother. She copied an entire Student’s Companion on an A5 Croxley 3-Quire Counter Book. She even used that four-colour pen to make sure that the book was very captivating to read. She could not afford a new one.”
Khumalo completed his primary education at Matshayisikhova Primary School in Luveve, Bulawayo. He did his ordinary Level at Mzinyathini High School in Esigodini and then moved to Mpopoma High School for his Advanced Level.
In 2013, he attained straight As in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Further Mathematics.
In 2014, Khumalo volunteered as an A’Level Maths teacher at Nketa High School in Bulawayo for one term as payback to the school head, Ms Siphathisiwe Ncube who once gave him a lift in 2011 on his way back home when he was tired of walking from extra lessons.
He also taught at Mate Secondary School in the second term of 2014 and John Landa Nkomo High School in the first term of 2015. From August to December 2014, he was an intern at the American Corner in Bulawayo, now Nust American Space.
He was hired to teach at Tsholotsho High School in the rural areas for two months before leaving in 2015 to study in the United States.
Khumalo got a scholarship to study Data Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, United States. He opted for computer science after getting advice from a professor there as he initially wanted to study chemistry.
Twitter took him in as an intern every summer in 2016, 2017 and 2018, working on Account Security, AntiSpam and Information Quality Teams.
Khumalo also worked with Berkeley Research IT on High-Performance Computing. From August to December 2020, he was a part-time Software Developer at the University of California, Berkeley.
Eric Khumalo is now working at Good Research as a Data Scientist and Privacy Engineer.
Having come from a difficult upbringing, Khumalo now wants to empower Zimbabwean children. He has created online coding classes for Zimbabweans with the aim of helping them attain scholarships abroad.
He is the founder and head instructor at Emzini weCode, an initiative focused on democratising access to computer science education in sub-Saharan Africa