My 2019 Story

It's another time of the year that I share with everyone my yearly journey.

I learnt a lot from this year and I appreciate those processes. 

In 2018, I set big goals and I was so sure I am going to smash them. 

06/January/2019 I journeyed to Abuja by road for the Commonwealth Scholarship Interview. I was so confident about it and I am sure I am going to kill it. It was a lot of stress trying to make extra copies that I was asked to and almost getting in, the secretary was already oppressing me that I was not coordinated, I don't think you will be qualified. I said in my heart, "Village People" To cut the story short, I answered all questions and I thought I was good. 

So, on my way back to Lagos, the vehicle I boarded broke down at Lokoja. We were not even close to Lagos and Driver already spent all the transport fare. Luckily I managed to get #500 Naira from the driver and I thank God I had extra cash. I arrived Lagos Past 1:00 am midnight and had to sleep in the park. I felt so cold and I was traumatized. I couldn't sleep and it was hell. 

Things we go through to achieve our dreams. In February, I was longlisted for Chevening and I was super happy. I got my referee to submit and I was rejected. I felt traumatized receiving this rejection. It never got to me this way. Infact, I was shaking and had to pause. Took my time and continued with my application for the Commonwealth shared application. I was rejected for all of those. I also applied for couple of applications and it was "Unfortunately we received"  I was getting. 

I got super tired and I never stopped applying. I appreciated people more. I could recall my colleagues at the Carrington Fellowship nominating me to win the U.S Consul General's Award and that showed me that my validation doesn't come from those opportunities but my work.

I also made a resolution that "It is not my lost, If I wasn't selected. It is theirs, they are just rejecting a star" A star shines whether they get rejected or not. 

I got depressed at some point, because I couldn't take care of self. I could recall attending a program and I had to wait for everyone to leave before I could leave because I was scared of not being able to pay other people's transport. I had to always calculate the money I have to attend the events. I was ashamed to ask people in the house for money. It got to a stage, they were saying "Is it certificate we want to eat" sometime this is what we go through as a young person. I was down, I cried multiple times but I smile to cover it. 

I could recall a friend asked me to stand in for her at a particular event and she said, "You will get honorarium" I spoke, jumped up and down. I only got food and drink. I was down. Some will not even offer you food.

While leaving the place, I was calculating my transport. More so, the cab I took, my balance was given to the wrong person and the person eluded with my money. If you see the way I fought at the park. "Things that happens behind the scene" I called my uncle and he had to send me money and I took Molue (The Big Commercial Bus for commons in Lagos). I managed to get home preparing for another trip the next day. I ultimately know that the pain would not last.

So on a sudden day, I woke up around 7:00 am, picked up my phone and I mistakenly dialed my friends Number Victoria Ibiwoye on WhatsApp. I never knew she was awake. She picked and I said, "It was a mistake but the mistake turned to conversation" We spoke about a lot of things, rejections and many more. So she asked, "Hammed, what are you doing currently apart from the scholarship you have applied to?" I responded "I am running my Non-profit as usual as well as Farmignite as a Co-founder"  She said, "Can you apply for the Peace First Fellow-in-Residence and I did?" The CEO also sent the application to me to share with others. I knew I was applying but I shared. Deep inside, "I knew I was not competing with others"  It was 16 questions, and I applied within a day. I got into the interview, I had 5 interviews, 1 real time task and all lasted for about 5 hours and 45 minutes/3-4 weeks. 

What was I saying in the interview, you might wonder. I was sharing my life experience, my story, my dream as well as my 12 years of experience working on development issues and how I have been leading several social innovation project. The knowledge at the Carrington Fellowship, African Youth SDGs Summit and the rest came handy. The truth is you would not know that what you are going through is preparing you for the greater good. 

July 1st, I got a call that I have been selected as a Peace First Fellow-in-Residence for Sub-Saharan Africa and this comes with a lot of opportunities. I was meant to travel to the U.K for our retreat but my Visa took time and it was denied. I could recall being vulnerable to ask people for money so I can pay my Visa fee. Thanks to Friends for coming through. Fellas "I was reimbursed for my Visa despite not making it"

In August, I was selected for the IDS Graduate Scholarship at the Prestigious University of Sussex, which I couldn't defer and I had to let go. "According to the IDS school, "They said, Your application was very strong and we will consider it again next year" 

I know you may want to know why I turned it down "Integrity and Personal Reasons" 

However, Peace First has been a great blessing. The love from the team, the training and opportunity to lead over 200 young people from over 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is a big deal and seeing this young people create massive social change brings me massive joy. 

The remaining 6 months, was a blessing. I started getting Paid speaking gig and even accommodation covered. I  was in Dubai to serve as a Resource as a Fellow-in-Residence/co-support an accelerator. Got couple of awards too and honor! And a lot is still coming that I am yet to share. 

I also got the YALI social media influencer award and SalesRuby 50 Nigerian LinkedIn top personalities. 

I mean telling my stories paid off! Doing the real work and not giving up. I am really blessed by people. I could recall in one of my interviews, someone said "Hammed, we have heard a lot about you" and this alone was humbling and it's an evidence that I should never dim my light.

I am really grateful to people and those that trusted me and were speaking for me when I was not there! 

I also got the courage to publish my book "The Africa I Dream To see"  after completing since 2018.

I am glad today, I can cover my basic needs and I am still in the process of being. 

We also did well through my NGO "Kayode Alabi Leadership and Career Initiative (KLCI), we reached 1567 students, engaged 60 volunteers, provide scholarship opportunities for 8 students and raised up to $1200 in cash and kind. I am grateful that some of people who supported, I haven't met them face to face. Thanks for trusting me! 

I shared 10 lessons life taught me this year. Read here

I will be adding additional 5 lessons; 

1. Life is hard, you will cry but don't just cry do something. I am grateful to Chinedu who constantly connected me to storytelling gigs/paid advert. Always think about how to utilize your skills. I also did C.V reviews and a bit of business proposal. 

2. You have to sacrifice for your dreams. During those interviews, I had to purchase a lot of data. In fact at a point I was owing Airtel and 9 Mobile big time. But I got what I wanted. Some would say, "I can't waste my data but you will always have time to check some latest gossip" 

3. I get angry when I am rejected. Not that kind of anger you are thinking but to continue to work and build capacity, to the extent that I can't be rejected any longer. 

4. You can travel without visa, I got featured on several platforms. I used storytelling to get my word out and it changed many things. You have a power "Social Media" How good are you using it? However, you have to do the real work "genuinely" to get the opportunities. 

5. The skills you built, when you are not getting paid, will pay you later. I was not getting paid for speaking at event for a very long time but I was building credibility. They can use you but you should not be used for nothing. What relationships are you building through those events and how are you catalyzing it for your growth! Be wise! 

So in 2017 consistency was the key, in 2018, platform was key and in 2019, people was key. You need people to catalyze. God don't just help us, God send people to help us! 

See you in 2020 fam and let's do a lot more together.

Hammed Kayode Alabi (c) 2019


  1. This is nothing short of inspiring

  2. Thank u for ur work, courage and strength, these have radiated into so many lives particularly young humanitarian like me. Thank you for taking those leads that we may follow. Your words and works are powerful! Keep inspiring and leading the global change, Humanity remains grateful.

  3. Fantastic and inspirational story, I sincerely salute your courage and resilience. You defeated all limitations and had a focus. So inspired with your story.

  4. What an inspiring piece. Thanks for sharing

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I feel inspired.

  6. Thanks for sharing this,if you don't mind,kindly save my number so I can see your status

    1. Thank you! Please can you say hi on Whatsapp. Thank you for reading!

  7. Thank you! Please can you say hi on Whatsapp. Thank you for reading!

  8. Great work Kayfactor. You're really "better by far".

  9. This is really an eye opener. Thank you for sharing Sir.

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