Dabo Owen Etela

SBM: Tell us about yourself:

Dabo: I’m a liberal person who loves challenges as well as my personal space.

SBM: We are aware you are the visionary of Converge; could you kindly tell us what it is about?

Dabo: Converge is a platform where ideas are shared. The ideation that takes place at   Converge is for proffering solutions to the challenges we face within our local communities. Community members of Converge are solution-driven and create positive change wherever they are. We have had two Conferences so far; New Thinking – the first ever Converge Conference, and Change Makers – the second Converge Conference. The next Converge Conference is themed ‘Creative Economy’. In our Conferences, we have an unconference session where participants use 5-10 minutes to make spontaneous presentations. The unconference is a core of Converge because this is where the real life-changing ideas come from. In addition, the unconference session is unrelated to the theme; Convergers are free to talk on anything that affects us as a society and suggest work-arounds.

SBM: What inspired you to conceive and implement the idea?

Dabo: I was inspired by William Kwakwamba from Malawi who made a windmill from bicycle parts to generate electricity for his poor home and eventually provided irrigation for their farm. He could not go to school because of the school fees but he borrowed books from the library to read. He was discovered by Emeka Okafor and Chris Anderson of TED. The duo provided a platform for William Kwakwamba which made the world know about William’s effort and also help him achieve his goals. There are a thousand Williams out there in our Nigerian society and Converge seeks to make the world know about them.

SBM: What are your key objectives, what you hope to achieve with Converge?

Dabo: Converge hopes to build and maintain a solution-driven community that will consistently develop sustainable ideas aimed at solving the pressing challenges plaguing our ecosystem.

SBM: What other activities are you involved in asides Converge?

Dabo: I work for Techpoint Information Systems, a Data Digitization Company, I am also a member of Rivers One – a Social Enterprise with an objective to improve the lives of Rivers People by embarking on projects that have positive social impact.

SBM: What do you have to say about life in Port Harcourt?

Dabo: Port Harcourt life is monotonous and something has to be done about that. There are no good leisure spots despite the waters we have around us, boat clubs are not functional and we have no good play parks. What you get in Port Harcourt are cinemas and pubs.

SBM: There is a widespread perception that youths from Port Harcourt are lazy, what can you say about that, given that you are personally not lazy?

Dabo: In my opinion it is a false generalization. You cannot use the few to judge the many. I know a lot of hard working young men and women who are creative and are successfully running their businesses. The thing is that these enterprising youths do not go on media announcing what they do until publishing outfits such as yours appreciate their effort.

SBM: Who or what inspires you the most in life, and in what way?

Dabo: The Holy Spirit and nature inspires me. I am excited when I’m on a mountain or on the sea or flying; even long road trips inspire me. The experience reminds me of the presence of my Creator and the purpose of life.

SBM: What do you think about having mentors in life? Do you have any? Would you advice other young people to have?

Dabo: I have had phases of my life where I learnt lessons. Pastor Moses Olowoporoku of The Life Plus Community is one person I consider a mentor because he made me learn to withstand pressure. Pressures from work and personal life are highly over-rated and people use it as an excuse to commit suicide, kill people, raise their blood pressure and do all sorts of things. Pastor Chris Ugoh of The King’s Assembly is also a mentor, he is a people-person, and he told me empowerment is the name of the game. It is very important for young people to serve great men and women to be able to learn the necessary lessons from their experiences before life takes you unaware because depression, disappointment and other negative emotions exists to cheat us. Happiness and success are all about choice, we can choose to be sad or look out for the little success in your failure, and it is left for us to choose.

SBM: All work and no play they say makes Jack a dull boy, how do you as a young and lively young man relax, unwind, and have fun on a typical day?

Dabo: I hang out with my friends to have a good laugh or watch a movie or perhaps read a book.

SBM: Do you have anything to say to readers of this interview, especially the young?

Dabo: I can’t really say anything to the young because their generation is much smarter than ours but they should be aware that the damage has already been done. The world is not exactly becoming a better place, morals are failing and our earth may not continue to have the capacity to handle our failures in a world of seven billion people. The young should be conscious of their individuality as well as their power to change the world by speaking against oppression and by making the lives of people better. The young should learn to be selfless because the root of all the worlds’ troubles is greed.

SBM: Peradventure someone wants to get in touch with you, how can you be reached?

Dabo: My email address is dabo@converge.org.ng; I can also be followed on twitter @Mr_Etela

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