Jonah Ayodele Obajeun: Even till now, I’m still failing (30 Days, 30 Voices)

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Before I started winning, I have failed and my failures set me up. Don’t be like my haters, they failed but they refused to be set up by their failures.

Even till now, I am still failing.

Yet I hate to tell the story of Abraham Lincoln, the grandfather of failure. But a time came in my growing up years, failure became my partner. Each time I fail, I fail in my next attempt, and then the next attempt, I fail again. Think through it, I was a resilient chap on the streets of Agege. I was not an hungry street boy, not because I had food to eat, but because I had unanswered questions filled up in my abomasums. These questions lingered, they formed a chain and became a beast. Then my curiosity got escalated, I lost the instinct to see hope, to see a better tomorrow, to see a society that caters for the brainy. The hustle begun and no help in Yonda! And the tests would come and I would fail, again and again.

Freedom came at last. I had to go on exile from the cribs to an high school nicknamed ‘poultry’. The dreams I longed for were gradually becoming a mirage. I wanted to become an Engineer. So I had to be in Science Class. But my results did not qualify me for a seat among the gurus in class ‘A’. I failed in my preceding exams but Science Class was my dream land. My Principal kicked, but my Year Tutor took up the gauntlet.

An agreement was signed. I would be demoted to Junior class if I fail to secure up to 50% at the end of my first term. I was a loner in the land of the gurus, a solo back bencher who was always at the mercy of curses from frustrated teachers. So I was alone in my solitude at the back of the classroom. At the end of my 3-year stay in the land of the gurus, I became the most celebrated, my lonely haven became a breeding land for dreamers, problem solvers, geniuses. And suddenly, everybody wanted to fail like me. Yet I hate to toe the path of Abraham Lincoln.

In the university, hunger compounded my failure woes. I had to respond to the request from nature. He who fights nature, fights himself. So I needed to make a living. I took to my childhood strengths, teaching and writing. At a time, writing overwhelmed my teaching foray and became predominant. Sadly, writing was not fetching me enough penny. I read more and wrote more.

Then I started entering for writing competitions. The first two I entered for, I failed. The next two I entered for, I won. I went on to win more international writing competitions, so I made few more enemies who thought they could write better but I was the one winning, including United Nations grants and some Fellowships. Before I started winning, I have failed and my failures set me up. Don’t be like my haters, they failed but they refused to be set up by their failures.

My failures set me up to vocalize my thoughts to Thabo Mbeki when he was still the president of South Africa. Other presidents from other part of the world rose to cheer me up at a World Bank Forum in Cape Town. This is not pride, I know how to appreciate my failures. I came back home. Some friends  marveled. They thought that was not wise enough, that I was close to God’s own land, where everything about life would come like manna. I came back to my university campus to continue my hustle. Writing became lucrative immediately, I started doing more, failing more and winning more.

Even till now, I’m still failing…

Unlike Lincoln, out of every two failures, I would record two successes. I now move from country to country, continent to continent, making some cash from writing and increasing the tally of my haters.  I know I don’t know how to write well. I know you write better than I do. I know you are blessed with the gene of ‘Obiahiagbonism’. But I know something you don’t know. I know how to fail, I don’t just fail. Thinking big is the first step to learn how to fail. Don’t justify your failure with Lincoln story, create your story and toe your path. I am not done creating mine, so don’t bother to toe my path. Get it, check it out, you always know something your haters don’t know. So don’t think about them. Keep failing and keep succeeding.

Even till now I am still failing because I am still creating a path for my story. Not that I have arrived, not that I have a fat bank account, not that I now dress in gold, not that I now fly in jet but I am not too far from that. Someday, soon, I will tell my complete story, of my disheartening peregrinations from joy to sorrow; from sorrow back to joy; from hope to despondency and from despondency back to hope.


Jonah Ayodele Obajeun is a practicing Chemical Engineer with Procter and Gamble. He is currently stripping life naked, not to rape but to enjoy the beauty of life. He blogs at and can be reached on twitter via @Obajeun.


30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail