At 8, Ib Dabo developed a huge passion for current affairs in Sierra Leone. 6 years later, the Civil War forced him out of his country on a boat to The Gambia.
His experience got us here — learning about his story, the life challenging experience at the sea and spending over half a decade as a refugee in The Gambia.
Inexperienced in writing and journalism, Ib’s passion unimaginably got him working as Africa Correspondent for a large global Internet media company at the age of 17.
By 2002, he launched his first blog publishing exclusive interviews, writing stories, and inspiring people.
In an exclusive interview with us, he shared more about his journey:
Interview With Ib Dabo:
How has your experience in Africa impacted you in helping youths achieve their dreams?
My journey as a youth in Africa began at 14 when I fled the civil war in Sierra Leone on an oil tanker boat and began a new life in The Gambia as a refugee.
I remember the fear that gripped me when strong waves rocked our boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I was worried that my dreams would die with me at sea. I then made a vow to God that if he spared my life, I would make the best of any opportunity He gives me, including inspiring young people. Thankfully I survived.
As a refugee in The Gambia, I sought job opportunities in the journalism field. I hoped to share stories of the impact of war on youth and how soccer united them. At 17, I was appointed Africa Correspondent for a leading global soccer website, SoccerAge. Four years later, I became Africa Editor for Goal.com, the largest soccer website in the world.
My experience taught me about the need to empower young Africans to achieve their dreams.
As Africa Editor, I helped aspiring young writers to improve their writing skills and gave others the opportunity to have their stories published on the website. Later on, I used my journalism experience in the United States to mentor and help young Africans who struggled with English to improve their writing in school.
Many African youths have the talent and potential to thrive at high levels. Recognizing their potentials and giving them the opportunity to live out their God-given purpose, I believe, is a vital part of creating a better Africa.
Your passion for writing has played a significant role in making you the man you are today. Do you think youths of modern times are less passionate about their dreams in terms of moving the continent forward?
I believe our youths have the desire to move Africa forward either by engaging with their governments or working with different organizations. However, there are limited opportunities for them to pursue their God-given purpose because of conflicts and socioeconomic factors.
Despite the challenges conflicts impose on the dreams of youths, there is hope. One of the nonprofit organizations I work with that gives me such hope is the Cameroon Association of Active Youths in Cameroon. It works with youths and families to solve problems within local communities, providing educational and developmental activities.
Other organizations like the World Bank Group’s Youth Transforming Africa (YTA) Network engages young people between the age of 18 to 32 to participate in topics affecting Africa, allowing them to express their thoughts and ideas in ways that can improve lives.
There’s an even greater chance for youths to make an impact because sixty percent of Africa’s more than 1 billion people are under age 25. With their passion and the use of technology to connect in ways like never before, I believe we will see progress over time.
Moving the continent of Africa forward will require a collaborative effort across all sectors. Family involvement in the lives of the youths and their dreams, and a safe and positive community to nurture them will have a long-lasting impact.
We also need to build and strengthen our education systems, allowing more youths to learn, excel and become part of the solution. Education should include internship and mentorship opportunities so the youths can broaden their knowledge and introduce innovative ideas.
Speaking recently with a sport enthusiast in Africa, the fact that many countries on the continent fail to put serious investment in sport was the highlight of the conversation.
As an experience journalist in that area, how well do you think African countries are paying attention to sport for supporting youths and for generating revenue?
The most recent events at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics—where some athletes were declared ineligible to perform because of negligence by sports authorities—speak volumes to the problem we are dealing with.
What we need to avoid such incidents in the future is to have leaders in place who are not only interested, knowledgeable, and passionate about sport but also have a desire to ensure its progress and success.
To generate the revenue we need good leadership and athletes who are educated about the financial aspect of their field.
By Elijah Christopher