18 years old Mathew Ibiyemi, a Nigerian and media consultant for AdamStart Global, who also doubles as the Corporate Communications Manager/Head of Infotech Desk, Nigerian NewsDirect, will be championing Journalism for Social Change.
He began writing at the age of 9 in a column in Nigerian NewsDirect called Young Leaders Digest. Still a secondary school student at the time, he discussed various matters from politics to education to the need for societal accountability. A trailblazer, now 18, Mathew Ibiyemi is a change maker passionate about utilizing the media as a tool for societal development.
The teen prodigy has demonstrated expertise and commitment in successfully utilizing the media and digital channels for advocacy work. In October during the peaceful protests turned bloody by callous agents, he lent his voice to the call for change. Writing on his Instagram page, the then 17-year-old opined, “Throughout history, we have seen replete how journalists/members of the press have been able to stoke global outrage and implement a change even though sometimes the campaigns succeeded, sometimes they failed.
“I stumbled on E.D. Morel’s article that stirred up public outrage against King Leopold’s horrific rule in the Congo while taking an online course last month and I discovered how the article by E.D Morel impelled the British government to investigate the situation although King Leopold fought back with a public relations campaign of his own.
“Leopold didn’t cede control of the Congo until 1908, and even then it was only for financial reasons. All those years of bad press and public anger were not enough to make him stop what he was doing. In the end, it came down to money.”
During the Bengal Famine of 1943, the photos and editorials printed by the Statesman newspaper in Calcutta shamed the government into sending food aid and allowing other journalists to report on the situation.
The coverage saved lives, but it came too late for the millions who had already died. Late is better than never, of course.
In the Soviet Union, an estimated six million people died of starvation in the early-1930s under Stalin. The outside world had no idea because reporters weren’t allowed to write about it.
The same happened in China. An estimated 30 million people perished during a famine in the late-1950s/early-’60s. But again, no one outside the country knew because China banned news coverage.
According to him, “When change is in the air anyway, we see as journalists can help push things along. Journalism is only one part of a bigger picture but when the circumstances are right, journalism does make a difference.
“Dear seniors colleagues in the media industry more particularly field reporters, I commend your tenacity and doggedness but let’s intensify our efforts. We have an effective tool in our hands to cause a paradigm shift, let’s #endpolicebrutality together.”
During this turbulent era of the nation’s history, Mathew wrote lots of stories which a lot of journalists were afraid to cover. This need to see justice served in the world, promoting equity, has over the years led to his participation in various charitable organisations. Most notable is Charis Care, an NGO determined to see the world blossom and free from oppression in line with Christian principles. As the head of fund mobilization at CharisCare, Mathew has created a partnership scheme that generates an average of half a million per quarter yearly.
On his inspiration, Mathew points to God and his father, Dr. Samuel Ibiyemi, saying in an interview with Teen Nation-TV, “I used to follow my dad everywhere as a kid to learn from him. I followed him to events, meetings, conferences as long as it was possible.”
Mathew is a flexible individual who performs well under pressure and a committed team player, who is collaborative, and as he often says, enjoys a challenge, finding new and innovative ways to communicate to achieve change. So much so, this dedication to growth, learning and development that in the thick of the lockdown, he went on to take professional courses on Corporate Strategy, Digital Marketing, Journalism and Print Media etc.
Thankfully, his efforts are being recognized nationwide. Mathew has been a recipient and nominee for many awards and worthy of mention include: Most recognized Brand on Campus (Male category: NewsDirect); 25 under 25 awards nominee for Media and Communications category; AVA awards Editor of the year, amongst others.