People of WordPress: Thelma Mutete

Posted January 21, 2021 by webcommsat AbhaNonStopNewsUK. Filed under Community, Features, Interviews.

In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a WordPress developer from the Africa on the difference it can make.

Thelma Mutete at a WordCamp

From a young age Thelma was encouraged by her father to ‘work hard, and dream big’. In High School, she pursued a career in Computer Science. She said: “I did not know what I would be doing or how I would get there but I just knew that I was going to pursue a career in information technology.”

She wrote her first line of code at the age of 16 living in Zimbabwe, Africa. This was to mark the beginning of her enthusiasm for computer programming.

When she joined the school’s computer class, Thelma thought she would learn Excel and Word. Instead, the assignment was to write her first program in C. She said: “It was not easy, but it was very exciting. l remember writing up simple code for a Video Club – a check-in/out for VHS tapes and CDs. Thus began my fascination with computers.”

Seven years later, she went on to university to study for a Bachelors in Business Management and Information Technology. Her third year internship was at a local web design and hosting company. Though she had hoped her placement would be at a local bank or telecommunications company, the chance to discover website design turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. 

In 2017, Thelma went on to work for a company designing websites using HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript and Joomla. She had heard about WordPress but had not used it. She recalls: “People have this misconception that WordPress is not for real developers and it is not secure and at that time I was one of those people.”

Finding a local community

From a discussion with a member of the local WordPress community, Thabo Tswana, about a striking swag gift from a WordCamp, Thelma’s interest was sparked. 

She started to find out more about WordPress and WooCommerce, and visited her local WordCamp Harare website. She was delighted to find that she could learn more about WordPress without needing any pre-existing knowledge, and wanted to be involved. So instead of just attending the camp, she volunteered too! 

Her response to her first WordPress event mirrors the experience of many others in the community. She said: “I only started using WordPress because of the awesome people that l had met at that WordCamp. Everyone was so welcoming.”

A week later, with help from Thabo, she designed her first website using WordPress.

She soon became more involved with the community and Meetups. Thelma participated in the first-ever ‘Women Who WordPress’ Meetup in 2018, with lots of women getting involved from bloggers to developers. 

She said: “We were free to talk and discuss a lot of things. We had more time to discuss the difference between WordPress.com and wporg.ibadboy.net, we shared views on how to handle discrimination at work, how to promote your website and a whole lot of other things.”

Establishing roots in WordPress

In 2018, WordCamp Harare had its first-ever female Lead Organizer Tapiwanashe Manhobo. Thelma was part of the organising team that year and was assigned to handle Harare’s first Kids Camp to take place eight months later. You can read more about her experiences of organizing a Kids Camp on her blog.

She said: “After the first Kids Camp, we had several people in the local Zimbabwean WordPress community who were enthusiastic about encouraging young people to embrace ICT. In 2019, we had not planned to have a Kids Camp because of financial constraints but to our surprise, we had some anonymous donations and we managed to have a WordPress Community outreach to a youth centre, Centre for Total Transformation, a week after our WordCamp. It is a non-formal school that caters for underprivileged and vulnerable children. The group were able to share practical skills about using WordPress, computer hardware and software.

Thelma shares that she became hooked on WordPress because of its community. “I enjoy attending WordCamps, meeting new people and just learning new stuff. I have a huge list of WordCamps I would like to attend. Last year I managed to cross WordCamp Johannesburg off my list. When everything is back to normal my plan to travel to WordCamps will proceed (fingers crossed).”

Reaping the fruits of ongoing learning

Thelma is committed to ongoing development training. She said: “Even though I can still cook up code in C and Java, for now, I have also included WordPress PHP functions to the mix. It was not easy to get to this point, daring myself got me to this slightly better stage. I try to do my best where I can and I am happy to say it has paid off so far.”

Thelma has continued her journey working in design and digital marketing last year with Trust Nhokovenzo who works in digital marketing and is active in  the WordPress Community. He came across her name as a developer from talking with others involved in WordPress. She went to work with his team at a marketing agency.

Her interest in the development of WordPress continued and she joined the 5.6 Release Squad in the mid 2020. At the end of 2020, she moved to become a Happiness Engineer working with WordPress.com. Thelma’s fascination with the platform and the community continues to grow and her contributor story is ongoing.

Find out more about the Harare WordPress community in Zimbabwe.

Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.


Thanks to Nalini Thakor (@nalininonstopnewsuk) and Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Meher Bala (@meher), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), and Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann). Thank you to Thelma Mutete (@thelmachido) for sharing her #ContributorStory.

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This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an essay originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories might otherwise go unheard. #HeroPress #ContributorStory


The Month in WordPress: December 2020

Posted January 5, 2021 by Hari Shanker R. Filed under Month in WordPress.

We bid goodbye to 2020 in style with the release of WordPress 5.6 and the launch of Learn WordPress. But these weren’t the only exciting updates from WordPress in December. Read on to learn more!

WordPress 5.6 is here

The latest major WordPress release, version 5.6 “Simone”, came out on December 8. The release ships with a new default theme called Twenty Twenty One. It offers a host of features, including:

  • Greater layout flexibility
  • More block patterns
  • Video captioning support
  • Auto-updates
  • Beta-compatibility for PHP 8.0
  • Application password support for the REST API
  • Updates to jQuery

In addition, WordPress 5.6 is now available in 55 languages. You can find more information about the release in the field guide, and you can update to the latest version directly from your WordPress dashboard or by downloading it directly from wporg.ibadboy.net. A total of 605 people hailing from 57 different countries contributed to the development of WordPress 5.6. @audrasjb has compiled many more stats like that, showing what a tremendous group effort this was—they’re well worth a read!

Want to contribute to upcoming WordPress releases? Join the WordPress #core channel on the Make WordPress Slack and follow the Core team blog to learn the latest on WordPress 5.7, which is slated to be out by March 9, 2021. The Core team hosts weekly chats on Wednesdays at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. UTC.

Watch the State of the Word 2020 recording

State of the Word 2020, the annual keynote address delivered by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, was streamed online for the first time on December 17. It was followed by a live Q&A from community members all across the world. You can find the stream recording on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The State of the Word video and the Q&A session are also available on WordPress.tv. 

Learn WordPress has launched

Learn WordPress, a new free, on-demand WordPress learning resource, launched officially on December 15. It offers workshops, lesson plans, quizzes, and courses for anyone interested in publishing with, building for, or contributing to WordPress. WordPress enthusiasts can also participate in discussion groups focused on specific topics to learn with and from each other.

Want to participate in Learn WordPress? Here are four ways you can do so! Additionally, contributors have launched a discussion on the future of Learn WordPress—feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. To help promote Learn WordPress, check out the Marketing Team’s materials, which detail a range of fun and creative ways to share this new resource.

Give feedback on the Full Site Editing project

Contributor teams have kicked off the Full Site Editing (FSE) outreach program for anyone who is building or maintaining a WordPress site so that they can give feedback on the upcoming FSE feature that will be part of Gutenberg Phase 2. Your feedback will go a long way in improving FSE user flows. To participate, check out the initial testing call on the Make/Test blog and join the #fse-outreach-experiment Slack channel.

Want to follow updates on the FSE project? Check out this blog post. You can find 2020 updates to the FSE project in the Make/Core blog.

BuddyPress 7.0 “Filippi” and 7.10 are now available

BuddyPress version 7.0 went live on December 9. Its features include: 

  • New administration screens to manage Member and Group Types
  • New BP blocks for posts and pages
  • A default profile image for network sites
  • Improved BuddyPress Noveau support for the Twenty Twenty One theme. 

A BuddyPress maintenance release (version 7.1) launched on December 21. 

Want to provide feedback or suggestions for BuddyPress? Share your comments on the announcement posts for 7.0 or 7.1. If you find a bug, please report it in the support forums

Gutenberg 9.5 and 9.6 released

The Core team launched version 9.5 and 9.6 of Gutenberg last month. Both versions include several improvements to FSE flows, bug fixes, and feature upgrades. Version 9.5 introduces features like full height alignment and support for font sizes in the code block. Version 9.6 includes features like the ability to drag blocks from the inserter and a vertical layout for buttons. 

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Further Reading

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it using this form.

See Also:

Want to follow the code? There’s a development P2 blog and you can track active development in the Trac timeline that often has 20–30 updates per day.

Want to find an event near you? Check out the WordCamp schedule and find your local Meetup group!

For more WordPress news, check out the WordPress Planet or subscribe to the WP Briefing podcast.


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