My 2021 Story

I think as the year continues to go by there are lesser opportunities that I apply to and my role is beginning to change from applying to opportunities to reflecting on my position of privilege. And democratising opportunities and connecting people to find their opportunities. Well, this comes with baggage and it comes with so many commitments. So many misunderstandings as well. As people sometimes do not understand that you have a life too and you also need to develop yourself because only then you can help others and sometimes contribute more to a just cause. 

As I was undergoing my MSc programme, I had also committed to helping others as well but I noticed I couldn’t help everyone, if not I am going to fail and be torn in between saying No. Those moments were also draining. So it took a lot of reflection and self-awareness to create a balance in between and I extremely struggle during the year to make that happen. Aside from struggling in creating that balance, I also struggle with self! I battle with my desire to do well which I did. I have always aspired to be better at whatever I choose to do and I try to give my best. I tried all my possible best to have a distinction but it didn’t work out. I had a Merit, about 2 - 3 points to a distinction which I am proud of. Couple with the rigour that comes with studying in one of the best universities in the world.

I once again found myself in a similar circumstance I was during my undergraduate days where I was just 0.03 away from a first-class and I am reminded by the word of my undergraduate project supervisor Prof. Dominic who said “Don’t worry you will do well” Not only do I have a sense of relief hearing that, but I also reflected on that statement and it pushes me more to pay attention to the next journey. 

If there is anything again, I am proud of, it is the ability to continue to learn from the process. To receive feedback with an open heart and to continue to be better. More importantly, the program I have been part of; the project I have engaged in and the amazing, beautiful people I have met along the line. The knowledge I have gained and not the least, how my dissertation led to my current role with Refugee Education UK just 3 weeks after handing in my dissertation. A comment on my dissertation by my supervisor made me search for more information on Refugee Education UK website. Saw two roles. I applied for the two, got to the final of the two, and finally got one of them. Again, this taught me the power of being present. 

Moreover, during my interviews, the experience of co-creating a mentoring program for refugees in Uganda during my MSc program. The placement-based work I engaged in with the MasterCard Foundation on the refugees' project in Uganda and also raising funds for refugees to access legal aids in Europe played a greater role in my career trajectory. I would say those experiences came in handy. Most especially, the experiences and findings from my dissertation. 

I am grateful to the people who have taken the time to hold my hands through this journey. Most especially the kind words from my supervisor “Jean Benoit Fallise” I was worried if I have done the right thing while writing my dissertation and he said “Hammed that is what good students do” It means you have done the right thing and truly I did. 

In a recent movie I watched, there was a quote that sometimes describes people who push themselves to be better. Sometimes they are called “worriers”

“Someone so scared that the only way that they can handle so much and things is by worrying their ways through them. It makes us very successful and also very tired, too.” 

Sometimes we hide our worries and we just worry our way through them and move on to the next thing. 

I must say that there were times I had lost confidence in myself during this period. There were times I have asked myself if I have made the right decision or not. There were times I had beaten myself, sometimes angry even in the moment, where there is a lot of people looking up to me for support and help. There were times I have been overstretched, overburdened, and also dealing with my Ulcer in between turning in my assessments. Helping folks review scholarships application, showing up for what I have committed to do, partially running an initiative far away from home, preparing a pitch, and prepping friends for interviews. Showing up in classes, sharing, learning, and many so much more. And dealing with difficulties and hard work that sometimes comes from putting oneself out there or just being available. 

I am grateful for friends who check-in and I am grateful for people who held my hands through. The truth is this, it would not have been possible without those kind, compassionate and amazing people in my life and if you are one of those people, reading this message, I dedicate this milestone to you and I am looking forward to making the next good troubles as I journeyed my way through to the next good thing. 

And I hope to share the process with us as well. 

Just to mention but a few moments I am proud of during my time at the University of Edinburgh 

1. Won the First-Ever Ufahamu Africa Students Essay Competition for my essay “EndSARS: We will remember “ historicizing revolution and young people's contribution towards ending police brutality. My winning essay also got me featured by the School of Social and Political Science and Centre of African Studies at the University. 

2. Volunteered with SolidariTee, the largest students charity in the UK, and raised £240 to provide supports for organizations working to provide Legal Aid services for refugees. 

3. Interned with the MasterCard Foundation and co-created a mentorship programme for 40 refugee learners in Uganda to enable them to access higher education. 

4. Co-led the launching of the mentorship programme and saw over 30 MasterCard Foundation Scholars form three different learning institutions (American University of Beirut, University of Edinburgh, and Makerere University) supporting refugee learners in Uganda. And further co-managed the mentorship programme. 

4. Got a placement-based dissertation with the MasterCard Foundation. Deepened my knowledge in M&E and contributed to policy debates around the circumstances and experiences of refugees in accessing higher education through bridging education programmes in Uganda. Facilitated a Scholarship Session and Academic writing session for Refugee learners in preparation for their exams into Higher Education.

5. Won the University of Edinburgh MasterCard Foundation Award for Transformative Leadership. 

6. The School of Social Edinburgh Award for Professional Development 

7. Joined the MasterCard Foundation at the University of Edinburgh Communications team and created scholars' story bank and storytelling toolkit. 

8. Engaged in the scholars' photo-voice project exploring transition. 

9. Completed my Second Book 5 years: 10 lessons life taught me. 

10. Pitched at The University of Edinburgh MasterCard Foundation Business Idea Pitch Competition and was one of the 10 recipients of the Award Grant. 

11. Joined the Edinburgh Global Shapers Community and Supporting the Reforestation Project in Scotland.

12. Going on a vacation trip to Lochside with 9 other amazing friends and course-mates.

While it is rigorous to study at the University of Edinburgh, I consider this a privilege to be one of the privileged ones to have pass-through this citadel of learning. And grateful to the MasterCard Foundation for the scholarship opportunity. 

I am not also the best of the best and I am not better than anyone but again, I hope to continue to reflect on my position of privilege. I hope to continue to pay it forward, to pass the baton to the next person, to continue to support the chain of change and help other people cross.

In 2017, I said consistency was key. In 2018, I mentioned that having access to platforms made the difference. In 2019, people were key to my successes and would always be. In 2020, process and time were the keys. In 2021, self-reflection and awareness came to my rescue. The constant understanding of self and reflecting on my essence and who I am. It gave me peace of mind. 

As I have always said, I don’t know what the future hold and I don’t know where I will be but I am sure of constantly being present in what I chose to do. 

Again, I am a moving train, trodding into the next year with bigger dreams. 

I hope you have enjoyed my Ted Talk. My friend Josiane would always say this after her presentation. 

See you in 2022 

Hammed Kayode Alabi (c) 2021


  1. Took my time to read between lines so I won't miss any valuable point.

    This is my first time reading through your blog as I have only heard about you through a senior friend Sir Al-mustaqim.

    Now more than ever, I'll always watch out for your next awe-inspiring post.

    As a young lady who wants to live purposely and impact my world, I have found a connection and now, I'm glad I have a strong believer in a better world I can look up to.

    Thank you so much for choosing to show up, for inspiring us and for importantly using your words to change many worlds.

    I believe with you now and in the future, the world would be a better place.

    Cheers to learning more from you.

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