#My2019Story – Akintayo Jabar

I last did this in 2016. Things really hit me hard that year, I felt like I would burst if I didn’t let it all out. This year has been the same only this time, man has become a full bottle. I’ve mastered the art of keeping everything I’m facing or going through to and within myself. People only get bits and pieces as conversations require — good for me if our conversations never lead there. Ozioma somehow convinced me to share and so, here goes.

The year has followed a theme and it’s been pretty consistent with that theme for me — “Inside Life” as contemporary philosopher and Shakespeare-esque wordsmith, Naira Marley said in his controversially infamous yet biggest work released yet. In this 2019, I have seen 5-alive, I have jeya and I have chop life!

Family & Friends

Where will I be without you guys??? I always maintain that I will do anything for my parents and my brothers, and I think I try but they still do the most for me. I can’t even begin to quantify it all – emotionally, financially, spiritually. I miss them ❤❤.

My friends are my family too, we just don’t share last names. I’ve been blessed to have the most wonderful and most generous bunch with the biggest hearts. The H & H gang (Ozy, please 🙄🙄🙄) and these new guys I have known barely 5 months and all my pipo from day zero and streets 🙌, I know I don’t show it enough as per hard guy, I love you guys and I am happy you all are winning!!!

AI Saturdays Lagos 

My orange family 🧡🧡. This group since I joined has become more than just another tech community for me. I have friends that I love and respect here and we are working together to build something of legacy. At the beginning of the year, for our third cohort I agreed to facilitate the codelab sessions for the deep learning class. For 16 Saturdays (okay George, yeah, I attended that wedding in week 5 but I was thinking about the class though), it wasn’t just about being present anymore, I had a responsibility and it was scary at first because I couldn’t afford to come and lie to these people every Saturday because won ma get mi – they will find me out for the fraud that I am. So, I prepared like crazy every week. I had a job that almost redefines demanding but I found the time even if it meant just hours before my classes to go over the notes and implement all of the codes before coming to play another con in front of those people – inside life, mo gbe won ni goal-goal!

On a serious note though, this turned out to be the most rewarding part of my year because on one hand, I was learning and improving my understanding of the things I was teaching and on the other, as anyone who has taught or mentored anyone in any capacity will admit that impacting others gives a sense of fulfilment that is unexplainable and for this, I thank Tejumade Afonja for setting me up that day 🙄.

Being Intentional

The past few years have seen me become a non-conformist, so I typically don’t do what everybody does amongst which is new year resolutions. However, this year, I set about a new lifestyle which is something I should have practised before. I chose to be intentional, to be deliberate and as simple as the word might sound or seem, it takes a whole lot of work to truly achieve. It could be as simple as deciding what outings to go for, what choice of clothes to wear or even what to eat. The point is you made that choice intentionally, by yourself. A good thing about this also is it makes you more aware of what you want and can ask the right questions when things don’t seem to add up. I am not perfect and can’t say I was a 100% at it but I’m steady making conscious efforts towards it. I will encourage everyone to imbibe and epitomise this going forward. It doesn’t have to be a resolution so there is no pressure, you can start now!

Ls (Losses)

Eyyy Godd! If I start with all my Ls this year ehn??? Let’s just thank God for life. You see the part of inside life where I jeya, plenty occurred here. Imagine, there were applications where before even closing the tab, the auto-reply bots have responded with “Thank you for …” 😫😭 or is it the one that the recruiting officer said he will introduce me to the person that was taken instead and he still gbemi l’handicap 🙆‍♂️ when I agreed to the introduction. O jami lara je!  (I was sooo pained!)

Some of these rejections hurt, ruined moods, sometimes even caused me to have some outbursts but has that stopped me? Nope, what I take away from every L is what I could have done differently, and I put it to use come the next one. Don’t worry, I will hit my jackpot soon, hopefully not too many Ls before then.


At the beginning of the year, I was working a 9 – 5 job, was leading classes on Saturdays from January to June. In between, I was arduously waiting on feedback from the one Masters program I applied to and one of those job applications I thought didn’t amount to anything. Then, in the space of a week in April, I sat for GRE and IELTS and aced them both in pursuance of my masters application and took a coding challenge for the job. It all started to get real. Two days after my coding test, I was scheduled for the next round of interviews and by the end of April, I got my offer of admission to the masters program. This was my inside life 5 – alive period. I also had one of my best birthdays in recent years in April!

A New Challenge

Remember that job application I got an interview for, well, after 3 more interview rounds and another test in between, I was at the offer stage. Yaaaaay!!! Right?? My nerdy ass decided to go to school instead. I literally did not take a job that was going to more than double the pay at my job at the time for a masters where I didn’t even get a scholarship for. Till date, this must be the most difficult choice I ever made but as I mentioned earlier, I was being intentional about my choices. The job was as a software engineer (which by the way, I am great at or I like to think I am 🤷‍♂️) but I had been yearning for a machine learning career and I stand a greater chance at that with a masters from one of the best Computer Science graduate schools in the world – Carnegie Mellon University.

On July 23rd, I moved to Kigali, Rwanda to resume my masters degree at Carnegie Mellon University Africa against all odds. I will have you know that since getting here, I have asked myself this question several times “why did you set yourself up??”. Only fellow Tartans can relate. It hasn’t been all rosy studying in a new system with extremely higher standards than used to and working a student job (these fees and bills won’t pay themselves, ejo e epp mi!). However, one semester in, so far so good!

In my school, there are over 15 nationalities represented and I came to discover early enough that there are stereotypes associated with every nation that tend to separate us rather than bring us together as Africans. I have since become conscious of my being Nigerian in order to correct most of the notions about us as well as portray the side of us they don’t know. This, we do by our actions and words. Slowly, but surely, we are changing the narrative.

It’s the end of the year and another decade and the lessons from my experiences and failings will be ever valid for 2020 and other years to follow. I literally saw the good, the bad and ugly this year and it has only made me all the better for it. A quote I don’t remember its source says “The past will keep you in bondage if you dwell on it”. I try to learn from past experiences and move on. There is something that we seek to achieve, and I promise it’s not in the past, so it’s best to live now, put in the required work, pray and iwo mafo as said by the young philosopher quoted earlier  …

Cheers to a better year ahead 🙂

One thought on “#My2019Story – Akintayo Jabar

  1. I’ve known this guy for almost a decade now (We’re growing olddd😭) and watching him navigate through life this past one year has been quite inspiring to me minus the fact that he identifies as a marlian 🙄… Thanks so much, Tayo for sharing. I am looking forward to an even amazing 2020. Cheers! 🙂


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