IB TALK ONLINE EXCLUSIVE FEATURE: Remembering The Life Of S.K. Dabo, A Scholar Whose Legacy Continues To Shine 25 Years Later

S.K. Dabo and Ibrahim Dabo

Left: Late S.K. Dabo, a professor of linguistics, taught at Birkbeck College in London as Honorary Lecturer for a year on a secondment from the University of Sierra Leone in 1966. Right: Ibrahim Dabo presented to honor students at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland on behalf of University of Baltimore's Helen P. Denit Honors Program in Spring 2009.

Ibrahim Dabo reflects on some of the accomplishments of his late father, S.K. Dabo, in celebration of twenty-five years since he passed away. Ibrahim writes about how his father’s accomplishments have shepherded his commitment to education, making a difference and continuing the legacy of a man who was highly admired as a scholar.
Ibrahim Dabo

Ibrahim Dabo struggled to cope with the loss of his father but turned that around to continue the former professor's legacy.


25 years ago today, my father, Professor Sillaty K. Dabo, passed away. My memory of him might simply be a dream. I was too young at the time to remember much of him. As I grew older and not having a father around, I experienced a feeling of loss.

However, while I struggled to cope with my situation, I constantly was shown dearly love by my mom and siblings. This love truly helped shape my upbringing, along with the support of other family members and friends.

In addition to the love were many stories of my dad and his accomplishments.

I’ve listened with great interest to stories of how my dad was a scholar, genius, hardworking, helpful, a linguist, and the list goes on. These testimonies have played a monumental difference in my life. They have inspired and helped me to achieve all the success I’ve worked so very hard for.

As I look back at my early childhood days in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I remember the study room in our house at the time fitted with shelves around the four walls and holding hundreds or thousands of books—in English, French, Latin, etc. I could see my dad’s amazing activities all around but often questioned within myself why he did not live long enough for me to know him. I later settled with the notion that God had a better plan.

Ibrahim Dabo

Ibrahim Dabo was representative of the Senior Class to speak at the May 2009 University of Baltimore commencement ceremony.

Continuing the legacy

I’ve done my best to excel in everything I do and continue the legacy of my dad. In spring 2009, early into my final semester at University of Baltimore, Maryland, great news came my way about my dad’s work. At that time, I was already overwhelmed with schoolwork and many other activities I was involved with on campus. 

Waking up at 4 a.m. and going to bed at midnight was a daily routine for me as I tried to keep up with all my activities. I thought I could no longer handle the pressure. My classes and projects were challenging.

Surprisingly, I received an e-mail from someone in France with information that audio recordings of my dad are held at the New York Public Library and the British Library. My whole world turned around in amazement and excitement.

The good news re-energized and inspired me once again and I explored how I could listen to the recordings. I was also able to focus on schoolwork again and work even harder because I knew that is something my dad would have been very proud of. 

My tireless efforts paid off handsomely, and as a result of my excellent academic standing, I was selected to represent my class and speak at the May 2009 University of Baltimore commencement Ceremony.

Ibrahim Dabo, Uncle K. Turay, Ishmael Dabo

Ibrahim Dabo, Uncle K. Turay, Ishmael Dabo after the brothers graduated from Baltimore City Community College.

My Journey

Few years ago, I received an email from one of my uncles, K. Turay, a message that reminded me that my dad’s legacy is alive.

“You keep amazing me with your intellectual development each day that passes on, as if your quest for learning is unquenchable, even if all the seas were used up completely and replenished over and over again in the process, infinitely. You don’t want to spare any space between your late dad and you, whose penchant for learning was extremely tremendous, and he died without accomplishing all that he aimed and intended. A great scholar, he indeed was,” the message read.

The penultimate line touched me most: “…and he died without accomplishing all that he aimed and intended.” As a result, I’ve redoubled my efforts and I am on a journey to accomplish some of those goals, along with my own aspirations. For me, such goals include giving back, inspiring others and making a difference.

I have been blessed with a talent in writing and over the last decade, I’ve used my gifts in many positive ways. Through my website, my goal is to inspire and encourage my readers and update them with stories of human concern that needs to be addressed. Very often I interview different leaders to find out how they are making a difference in the community and how we can encourage other people to get involved.

Some of the most fundamental aspects I value are healthy relationships and human development. Part of my goals are to help people in need and also contribute to the development of my native country, Sierra Leone. With God’s help, I will continue pursuing my dream, and, hopefully, many others will join me in meaningful ways throughout my journey.  

The Audio Recordings

On Saturday, September 10, 2011, I finally had a chance to visit the New York Public Library and listen to the audio recordings of my dad. I was a little nervous and did not know what to expect. I still cannot express how I felt while listening to them. His voice keeps echoing in my ears now. He truly sounded like an interlectual. I tried to connect with him so much, only that I could not touch and feel him physically. Nevertheless, this was such an uplifting and memorable moment, and certainly a new experience for me.

Anyone is welcome to listen to these recordings either at the New York Public Library or the British Library.

Last Words

My message is simple—it’s neither about me, nor about my father. It is about the way, as human beings, we are called to become role models to inspire others and make a difference through our personal stories. I’m not sure my siblings and I would have excelled both academically and professionally without the guidance and support from our parents. In general, good examples positively influence our lives and the relationships we maintain with others: be it family, friends, colleagues or other. Everyone has unique attributes and finding out what those traits are and putting them into practice is what is bound to transform our lives and those around us. The legacy then continues.

Education profiles:

S.K. Dabo

Remembering and celebrating the life of S.K. Dabo.

S.K Dabo brief bio
Sillaty did his BA degree in French at the University of Hull before doing a one-year Diploma of Education course in Oxford at the Department of Education. In 1963, he was awarded the Diploma of Education. He started his studies at Worchester College, Oxford University, in 1962 and pursued a B. Litt degree in Comparative Literature for which he got a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1964 tenable at Worcester College.

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan is “one of the oldest and most prestigious schemes of its kind in the world.” Sillaty passed the B. Litt in 1967. The branch of study was Modern Languages, and his thesis was entitled: ‘A comparative study of the treatment of human relationships in fiction by modern African writers in French and English’.

He was a writer and many of his articles were published in the Oxford Journals (a division of Oxford University Press) on African Affairs. Read full profile

Miatta Dabo

Miatta Dabo was a representative of her Class to speak at the May 2001 University of Baltimore Law School commencement ceremony.

Miatta Dabo’s brief bio

Miatta holds a bachelor of science and master’s degree from Morgan State University, Maryland, where she became the first student to graduate from the university’s two-year MBA program in one year, while working full time. She was also a teaching assistant for accounting and finance.

She then pursued a law degree at the University of Baltimore (UB). At UB, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Intellectual Property Law Journal, a member of the UB Law Review, president of the Criminal Law Society, treasurer of the International Law Society, day representative for the Intellectual Property Law Society, and a teaching assistant for Criminal Law. She represented her class and spoke at the May 2001 UB commencement ceremony, where she also received the Law Faculty Award, “considered the most prestigious award to a graduate exhibiting unusual qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.” She’s won numerous other awards during the course of her academic career.

Miatta is an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), entrepreneur, model and writer. Her publications include: “Recent Development, Fair Use Doctrine: When is Copyright Infringement A Parody?” in the “University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Law Journal”. Click here to visit one of Miatta’s blogs and also visit her page on Examiner.com.

Ishmael Dabo

Ishmael Dabo graduated with a BSBA Finance degree from Ohio State University.

Ishmael Dabo’s brief bio

Ishmael began his academic career with a concentration in business while living in Banjul, The Gambia. He enrolled in a professional long-distance education and completed two diplomas——in Business Economics and Commerce, and Business Management and Administration—―with the Cambridge Tutorial College, an accredited British College providing superb modern Careers Training to tens of thousands of people worldwide. He went on to study accounting and completed the Diploma in Accounting with The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), UK’s leading qualification and membership body for accounting and finance staff. Ishmael then started studying for the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) while working for Guaranty Trust Bank in The Gambia. Midway through his ACCA studies, he moved to the U.S. to pursue a four-year degree.  

In Dec 2006, Ishmael earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration, with High Honors, from Baltimore City community College, where he was also awarded a Citation of Distinguished Scholar from then BCCC interim President Dr. Richard M. Turner, III. Other commendable accomplishments included a place on the National Dean’s list. 

In 2007, Ishmael attended the Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University (OSU). At OSU, he was part of various organizations, including the Finance Club. He graduated from the Fisher College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree and a concentration in Finance. He currently is studying to complete the ACCA exams.

Ibrahim Dabo

Ibrahim Dabo received many awards at University of Baltimore in May 2009.

Ibrahim Dabo’s brief bio

In June 2007, Ibrahim earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration, with honors, from Baltimore City Community College, where he was also awarded a Citation of Distinguished Scholar by then BCCC interim President Dr. Richard M. Turner, III.

Ibrahim attended the University of Baltimore (UB) starting 2007 and was awarded a full Hammonds Scholarship to pursue a degree in Management Information Systems. At UB, he was an honors student and Vice President of Communications for the Student Events Board, IT Chair for the UB chapter of Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization (CEO Club), Senior Staff Writer for The UB Post, the university’s student newspaper, and Peer Network Advisor for the Academic Resource Center. He was involved in several other activities and honor societies and was representative of the Senior Class to speak at the May 20, 2009 UB commencement ceremony. His recognitions at UB include:

1. Certificate of Appreciation – University of Baltimore Student Events Board 2009

2. Outstanding Member Award for “outstanding contribution and exemplary leadership to the Student Events Board” – 2008/2009 

3. Laurence Short Academic Award for International Students for “academic excellence and co-curricular involvement” – 2008/2009 

4. Certificate of Merit for “academic excellence within the Management Information Systems Program” – 2008/2009 

5. Service Learning Scholar Award for 2008 for “successfully combining public service with educational goals, thus enhancing student learning while benefiting the larger community” 

6. President’s Award for “Academic Excellence, Leadership, and Outstanding Contributions to Community Service and The University Of Baltimore” – 2008/2009

Learn more about Ibrahim by clicking on the following links: Profile | Education | Testimonials | Blog

In Photos 

From left to right: Ishmael, Ibrahim and Miatta Dabo.

From left to right: Ishmael, Ibrahim and Miatta Dabo.


The Dabo siblings

The Dabo siblings

The Dabo siblings

The Dabo siblings


The Dabo siblings

The Dabo siblings

Dabo Siblings

Dabo Siblings

About Ib Dabo

Ib Dabo, founder and executive editor of Ib Talk Online, is a writer, journalist, photographer, and communications and IT leader whose mission is to inspire and work with people to make a difference in our world. Visit his official website - www.IbDabo.com - to learn more. Follow @IbDabo on Twitter and also @IbTalkOnline on Twitter.