Everyday by 12pm for the next 21 days, I’ll be telling you what life is like at NYSC Camp. I was posted to Borno State, but the camp holds in Katsina state due to Boko Haram insurgency in Borno. You can read all the stories in the series here.
Look, I am never believing any soldier again. In the heat of yesterday’s competition when the MC (a fellow corps member) saw that we were going to take long, he begged that we be allowed to sleep a bit longer. It’s a fair arrangement: the next day is Saturday, and in all fairness, we were finished with the NYSC timetable. We need rest too.
Now imagine my shock when the bugle sounded at 4AM this morning, and my anger when a solider poked my leg with a stick to wake me up.
I get up, dress in anger and a feeling of betrayal. Soldiers are not to be trusted. Not now, not ever.
Funny thing: coming to the parade ground was a waste. I missed morning meditation, and by the time I arrived at the ground, there’s nothing left. I am not marching, I am not doing anything, in other words, I have wasted valuable time coming here.
Today is the carnival. All platoons will dress in jeans and a white round neck shirts bearing designs unique to their own platoons. I came prepared, I brought jeans. When you come to camp too, come along with jeans. If you intend to participate in Miss NYSC, you can also come with your own dress, and a traditional attire. Young men hoping to be Mr. Machos should also come with corporate outfits, and maybe three litres of vegetable oil.
Lmao. This carnival is trash. Other carnivals in other states dress in traditional attires, fancy costumes, and they move about, happy and colourful. But here in Katsina, our carnival is like an awareness walk. Awareness walk is even better. We simply gather under the pavilion, and the MC calls us out to dance according to platoon. It’s a travesty of a carnival. Even street carnivals will see our carnival and laugh.
Because, what’s the point of a carnival like that in the afternoon? What’s the point of buying face masks if you will do nothing but sit under a pavilion and listen to Naira Marley on repeat?
I forgot to tell you. Today is the cooking competition, and all platoons are saddled with the responsibility of cooking dinner by ourselves and for ourselves. There will be judges who will taste our food and award us marks.
They give us pepper, salt, maggi, vegetable oil, tomato paste, detergent (to wash pot, not to cook abeg), quarter bag of rice, raw meat, firewood, Onga, and all other things they deem enough to cook food.
But then the problem is that these things are not enough. And this is where people begin to do oversabi.
You know those people in university and secondary school, those ITK classmates who when asked to define Osmosis, say, “According to Albert Einstein 1945, page 201, column 11, line 43, Osmosis is sfhdlahd.” Shebi you know them na? Them full this camp.
Ordinary cooking competition that they gave us rice and pepper for, some people started to prepare salad, banga soup and starch, fried rice. I think some people even prepared amala and ewedu. One platoon went to buy crates of soft drinks. Another platoon went to rent aprons, table cloths, decoration fabric. Tiri gbosa for una. See my platoon people, we gathered and told ourselves we are not participating. Competition that they will not judge us fairly for anyway. Why kill ourselves?
Food is not yet ready. We are supposed to be done by 8PM and take it to the parade ground for tasting, but since we are not done, will the judges please eat firewood and salt? The Camp Director came and said, “Let me tell you, if that food is not ready by 8PM, know that you are going to taste it and judge yourselves by yourselves.”
Why sir, that’s so kind of you. How did you know we have the same thing in mind?
Food is ready. Hot party jollof rice with fried and stewed beef. We bought extra pepper, vegetable oil, butter, and seasoning cubes. Our money will enter our mouth.
We carried it to the parade ground, but we went to the far back, not to the front. We stood there with our table and just chilled.
It was in this this chilling mode that we heard that our platoon came in 8th. On top food wey them no taste? Food wey we no even carry go there? Indeed, God is a miracle working God. We kuku burst into song: He’s a miracle working God. He’s the Alpha and Omega, He’s a miracle working God!
See clapping, see dancing. Even other platoons were forced to look at us and wonder about our excitement. But we didn’t even care. We simply set up table and started to serve our platoon people with one sachet of water.
The food of rebellion is sweet, I tell you. Those of us that cooked got extra meat, and later when we cleared up, I still ate extra. I must have eaten up to seven pieces of meat. Yep, seven.
Later, we heard that the eight position was for kitchen duty and that Platoon 4, the same platoon that cooked heaven and earth came last in kitchen duty.
Lmao. Is life not a pot of burnt beans?