Apple co-founder and immediate former CEO, Steve Jobs has died. Steve was a real inspiration to some of us who grew up in  the village and had to struggle against all the odds just to make a living. We sometimes had to depend on listening to radio talk shows and participating in contests just to pay our way through college.

As someone who went through the initial Africa Virtual University programs which were sponsored by World Bank and inspired by the likes of Steve Jobs, I must appreciate what the former CEO did to my life. I must tell you that were it not for the college dropouts like Steve Jobs and Bill gates, I would either have been a lost boy with no future as the environment I grew in could not let me be what I am today.

The first time I set my eyes and touched a computer was in the year 2000 while starting my course at Africa Virtual University. I marveled at the PCs  running Win 98 and when I clicked the mouse the first time, I felt like someone aroused all over the first time he/she sat on a powerful motorbike. While at AVU, we were taught by Professors and AVU then was headed by Dr Juma who later passed on. 1985 when Steve Jobs was fired for creating Apple Classic was just 15 years ago and we wished we knew the computer then. Later I met Dr Jacktone Odote at Kenyatta University and Prof. Namuye at USIU and these people have the real stories of the Kenyan tech scene.

So today after getting the news of the death of Steve Jobs, I decided to get the thoughts of the academic and tech business leaders in Africa. Prof Namuye is now on sick-leave. He has an illness which has made him not go to school and when I broke the news of the death of Steve Jobs, he was really surprised. He was saddened and without listening to my questions, Prof. Namuye started telling me why even Windows is Windows because of Steve Jobs and so the influence of Steve Jobs in the Kenyan and African market must not be limited to Apple products.

Dr Odote who is now at KCA University said “Steve Jobs Story is long and short. The long can’t be told but the short is that any innovator, creator and tech enthusiast needs to hum his story to supplement the efforts we are making elsewhere to make a change in this world using technology”.

I also contacted other business leaders and techies and these are what they had to say;

  • Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom; Inspirational corporate leader who continually redefined how man would interface with machine.
  • Robert Ngeru, Deputy MD of Samsung East Africa; He was such a great inspiration to the innovators all over and it was thrill competing with his ideas most of the time. The African young innovators, most of who could not afford Apple products, got inspiration and hope from his leadership.
  • Aghastee Khante, Head of Nation Media Group Digital Division; It’s a great loss for the entire world and not just the tech community or the USA. Infact this day should be celebrated as Steve Jobs day, for his contribution to the world of product and marketing.I personally feel that apple will not be the same without him, although only time can tell what will happen to Apple. It’s a great loss to lose him so early on in his life and I am indeed saddened.
  • Omar Bajaber, Intel Kenya Country Manager; He was a “modern day innovator/entrepreneur”  that pushed the limits on creativity and business. He will be missed in the Tech Industry as he always raised the bar for the rest of the industry, Apple PC, Mac book, iPod, iPhone,  Ipad..
  • Professor Anne Amadi, Head of KeKoBi  (Business Incubation Lab): It is hard loosing a mentor. Our work at KeKoBi was much easier because we got great personalities like Steve Jobs to introduce to our those we mentor. Losing Steve jobs is like losing one wheel of a tri-cycle. We will just have to wobble along hoping to get a replacement.
  • Mr. Paul Otellini  CEO of Intel; True genius is measured by the ability to touch every person on the planet. Steve did that, not just once, but many, many times over his amazing life. We at Intel were privileged to have known him and worked with him as he brought his creations to life. Our hearts go out to his family and to his many friends and co-creators throughout the world.
  • Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager East and Southern Africa at Nokia; Every once in 4years the technology industry experiences a major disruption. Often times it has been new technology. In Steve Jobs was an enigmatic personality that defied all odds and confounded his friends and foes that it will take several generations to forget.
  • Shem Ochuodho, the father of internet in Kenya; How sad! What a waste – at that tender age? Steve contributed immensely to creating the ‘global village’, and in the process created many opportunities and jobs like his name. As we mourn him, we also celebrate his life and the lives he impacted and will continue to impact for generations to come. The i-touch concept like a number of other Apple products was a sure hit! RIP.
  • Joshua Wanyama, Pamoja Media; Steve Jobs changed how people look at design. He made the aspirations and ideals designers look for a standard of his creations. Steve Jobs took the life of designers, their designs and presented it to the world in a very cool way.
  • Dr Jackton Odote, KCA University; Steve Jobs Story is long and short. The long can’t be told but the short is that any innovator, creator and tech enthusiast needs to hum his story to supplement the efforts we are making elsewhere to make a change in this world using technology.
  • Gaurav Singh, General Manager of Squad Digital; Steve Jobs constantly challenged the status quo in innovation. He ended up becoming the best and has died challenging even his own innovation pushing the boundaries always. I believe in his ‘Stay foolish and stay hungry” and felt inspired when he said “Why join the navy while you can be a pirate?”. The name has a way of doing things while with pirates, it is spontaneous.
  • Nzioka Waita, Director of Corporate Affairs at Safaricom; The creativity and products that Steve Jobs inspired epitomized customer aspiration better than any other  technology house!

Some other leaders all over the world have been quoted here and here Euologising Steve Jobs. I must say that I could not afford most of Apple products in my life but he made me want to break every wall of thought and that is why I will never be with the crowd just to please people.

My last inspiration from Steve Jobs was yesterday and I created this while thinking of being innovative;