Five ways to develop Sababu - Tips for the Unemployed African Graduate
Ask any out of work Sierra Leonean graduate why they are unemployed and they’ll tell you that they don’t have the sababu to get hired. Culturally sababu is a mix of good fortune, a leg up, and your network. Sababu is universal. It isn’t just an African idea. Sababu is the reason why word of mouth referrals are powerful. Sababu is the reason why being a legacy (the child of someone who has attended any American University) almost always guarantees you a spot. Sababu is the reason why Will Smith’s children were millionaires before they were 18. Everyone has sababu somewhere. Does the cookery chop bar lady who knows your mom give you a bigger portion, or does your friend who plays for a premier league team and can get your free tickets? Sababu is the good fortune that comes with the people who know you. We all have it
The problem with sababu however, is that people have come to depend on it as the ultimate way to get hired. Our citizens so believe in sababu that they’ll cheat on exams, and forge diplomas. What matters most is just the paper to give to the person who will give them the sababu job. Knowledge, skills, honing their craft, working hard to achieve, all that the back seat to sababu. Den say Salone na udat you sabi, a self fulfilling prophecy that holds many from reaching their fullest potential.
What the sababu culture does is that it creates unnecessary pressure on family members especially to place their kin in jobs and give them opportunities they may not deserve. This furthers nepotism and destroys institutions, and you end up with contracts awarded by corrupt means, and unqualified people in government jobs.
Hello Sierra Leone!
My argument here today is that everyone no matter who you are can create their own sababu by doing more to build and develop themselves. Excellence, expertise, technology, and hard work will create more long term sababu for you than any cousin or aunty. The other thing with creating your own sababu is that you will build a career based on merit. So if you just graduated and you can’t find a job, here are five tips to create sababu and give yourself a leg up.
Volunteer with a startup (business) or NGO
I heard the owner of Union Trust Bank day that when the bank puts out an advert for one job post hundreds of people apply. If you are a recent graduate who does not have a job another way to get hired is to volunteer with a startup. There are so many good people who have started small businesses and NGOs but can’t afford to hire. If you go volunteer with a startup and you help that business grow, it is almost a guarantee that they will hire you as soon as they can afford to. And if they don’t you will have a year’s work experience to add to your CV, and someone credible other than your church pastor to recommend you for your next job. This is how you give yourself a leg up or sababu.
Use Youtube to learn
Anything you want to know someone more than likely already made the ”how to...” video. In today’s digital world there really is no reason why you can’t learn to acquire skills or knowledge. If you don’t feel like signing up for a free online course, Youtube is an amazing place to go to troubleshoot and learn. I have watched tutorials to learn how to do everything from open a stuck bottle cap (put it upside down in hot water) to watching business videos and motivational talks. Go beyond Facebook and WhatsApp with your data bundle and you open the door to a world of information. Being able to demonstrate knowledge, especially on matters you teach yourself will create sababu for you!
Stay up late to finish work that is due so you have something to show.
I was in a high level government meeting in Freetown when a minister asked for a consultant to demo their work and the consultant’s response was that they were not ready. Honestly, I could not believe it. There is no excuse for missing a deadline other than death itself. If you’re not dead don’t miss the deadline. You must stay up late and get it done! Whether this is a team project, an assignment, or for work, be the one who goes the extra mile. Seek to establish your reputation as the one who delivers and you will go far. Can you imagine the impact you as a worker, consultant, volunteer will have on the boss? That's sababu created for life I promise you. Whenever they think of getting things done your name will come up. That's how you show you are not one to tehkeh. Put some respek on your name!
Read books, articles, podcasts about and around your passions and interests.
I meet people who say they have specific interests but then when you speak to them they don’t actually know the first thing about it. How is it something is your passion and you’re not geeking out for it? Dive deep into your passion so that it can create opportunities for you. Imagine you meet Beyoncé and you're like I love your work Bey, you're amazing and she says oh yea? What's the name of my fashion brand? You don't know! Which one of my songs are your favorite? You don't know! Like seriously is she going to even believe a word you say? Nope! If you love art, fashion, music, technology, and even journalism; there is so much learning and preparation you can be doing on your own before your breakthrough.
The App Store/Google Play Store is a treasure trove of productivity tools
I’m definitely judging you when I say some of you use your phones as a Gameboy, so so Candy Crusher, or Bejeweled. The App Store can really create sababu for you. There are apps to learn and practice English, there are apps (Grammarly) that will help you improve and check your writing, there are apps to help you plan and host meetings (Zoom), there are apps that help you record and transcribe sound and share your meeting notes instantly (Otter), and of course for those who have to sell products online and need graphics there are apps like (Lightroom) to edit photos and (Canva) to turn your image into a digital graphic.