I am writing this in Western Samoa, where I started my first day of schoolnet
development support in the Ministry of Education. An exciting day dampened by sad news.
First the shocker of Guido Sohne passing away a month or so ago. Committed, sometimes fanatical, promoter of all things Free/Libre, Guido was inspired to have African FLOSS activists join him and other FLOSS advocates in Seattle to talk FLOSS with Microsoft. And a few weeks later he was gone. There were several tributes made to him in the FLOSS world, as well as in FaceBook. What a tragic loss to Africa’s youthful efforts in ICT development.
And now Uwe.
Uwe was one of the longest contributors to the KDE desktop and was one of the original members of the core development team. He moved on to become the main KDE representative in Africa. Uwe was one of the first people to write a book on KDE development, which helped many people who have become regular contributors today, and was still writing about KDE last week. Uwe put his back into it and was a great advocate for Free software in his area of the world.
I am deeply grieved by the tragic news and loss of Uwe; he was such an incredibly important partner, mentor and inspiration in our Open Source development efforts in Namibia. We’ll miss him when we finally do get public sector FLOSS policy in Namibia. A wonderful, vastly talented intellectual and eccentric to the end, I am bereaved by the fact that I missed drinking a last cup of first-flush darjeeling tea (his favourite!) with him in his kitchen. I shall also greatly miss the no-holds-barred and often heated debates over drinks at the Furstenhof and other drinking holes in Windhoek with him and other Linux User Group (LUG) members. I regret not having been able to attend more of these LUG meetings, and trust that the LUG will continue to meet in the spirit Uwe would have expected.
I knew Uwe was not well in the previous months, but he was obstinate in not wanting to solicite any help from those around him, and I deeply regret not having been firmer in my last enquiries.
Uwe played a key role as a founding partner and thinker in the establishment of SchoolNet Namibia way back in 1999. Along with Steven Delport, Madryn Cosburn, John Buckam and a couple of other inspiring IT players in Namibia, he helped engineer a model of Open source software, open hardware, open content and open access which made SchoolNet Namibia what it is esteemed for today. I am in Samoa today as a result of these great inspirations, and am proud of the fact that SchoolNet remains a stellar model of ICT development in education as a result of these inputs by Open Source advocates of Uwe’s stature, philosophy and spirit.
May he rest in peace, and let’s find practical ways of keeping his memory alive.