Today, I’m in the slightly awkward position of presenting a girl who codes, who protests she doesn’t code. And that is in spite of having a developer CV as formidable as the Wall of Westeros. I’m yet to decide whether this is humbility, or if she is just an extreme code purist. You decide. Everyone, meet Onyeka Aghanenu.

Please give a brief description of yourself

I’m a self-deprecating, web and graphic designer who is obsessed with pretty things on and off the web, fancy gadgets, plantain and tv shows. I’m really into TV shows. Really.

I’m also more likely to chat better with you via Skype than in person.

What are your code proficiencies/languages/super powers?

I’m mostly a front-end person, so I love to wrangle CSS. I’ve also started using SASS, which is amazing. I work with PHP-based stuff so I’m decent in it, and my first language was Visual Basic 6, but I haven’t touched it in years. However, I don’t care for hardcore programming.  When it comes to graphics, Photoshop and Illustrator are my tools. I like to think there’s no CMS platform I can’t customize to the T at this point.

I’m also currently into illustration, as a hobby.

How and why did you start/learn to code?

I’ve actually been interested in computing since I was about 4 years old, thanks to my dad, who’s in the IT industry. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t near a computer.

It was because of this and my inability to find a course I cared about for University that I chose to do Computer Science in school. Interestingly, the course itself did nothing much for my interest, but the laptop I got for school did.

Also, I grew up as an artist, and during my first internship as a Visual Basic 6 programmer at my dad’s company, everyone soon realized that I was more likely to spend time designing the UI of my programs than actually coding it. During my subsequent internship at an online solutions company, I found my calling when I discovered the joys of Photoshop and HTML. The rest is, how you say, history.

What have you done (projects/places you’ve worked)?

My longest running job was almost 4 years at Zenith Bank as one of their in-house web designers. Interestingly, if you look at Zenith Bank’s website today, it’s barely changed since most of the team and I left – in my defense, not my best work but we were at the mercy of higher powers, I’ve never touched Coldfusion before or after that period – about 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve had a couple of other brief jobs, been on my own and in school, in search of the Holy Grail of web jobs that would finally excite me.

I used to be a blogger too.

One of the last things I did before my break was something simple: for a friend and  a real estate site for a client, but it hasn’t launched officially so I can’t share it.

What are you working on right now/where are you working?

I’m currently rounding up a year-long course and sadly haven’t had time for serious work in a very long while. However, I have been setting up a special project that I hope I’ll be able to talk about soon, and learning to create highly functional and creative community-based entertainment portals using a a couple of different platforms like Drupal and WordPress.  I’m also (finally!) working on a new personal site and launching my design business: Desire Creative. I should be back in full swing come August.

What kind of projects would you like to tackle in future?

These days I’m looking to participate in large-scale web productions. I’m hugely inspired by the team of the Verge/Polygon/SB Nation and what they’ve put together and I would love to meet people willing to do lots more than the bare minimum and the same old thing, which is a huge challenge creatives have in Nigeria, especially as more importance and value is placed on programming or just ‘getting a site up as quickly and as cheaply as possible’.

Random fact about you

I LIVE on the internet and probably interact more with people I’ve never physically met than people I have. I’m mocked for having a long-term relationship with my laptop and I’ll admit it’s a little ridiculous. If I’m seated anywhere for more than 30 minutes, chances are I’m pulling out my laptop to do something. But I think I’m more addicted to being online. I can maybe manage to survive a few hours without my pc, but I MUST have internet. I’m also a bit of writer and have been writing stories since I was 7/8.

Onyeka Aghanenu is on Twitter here. Her website is

Onyeka is the fourth techie in the girls who code series this week. Previously, we’ve interviewed Bukola AkinfaderinUyoyo Edosio, and Zainab O.A, be sure to read their stories too.

Read this next
Developers, Uncategorized
19th June 2013

In-house developer for a construction company by day and an applications developer by night, Zainab is the creator of NaijaXpress, an RSS aggregator for Nigerian content. In our chat with her, she talks about how she started coding, what languages she loves and why you shouldn’t listen to advic…well, sometimes.

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