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.
I wake up full of joy even though I am tired and would like to go back to bed. Today is Platoon two’s day to take the morning meditation. The topic is Patience, and I—yes me!—will be the one taking it. I wrote it too, then submitted it to the Platoon Leader and Assistant Platoon Leader to crosscheck it before I took it to the Camp PRO, a man so efficient he’s almost scary. They all liked it. Actually, scratch that. They all LOVED it. The Camp PRO said to add one more paragraph to wrap it up and then we move.
Today is also our Man O’ War drill, which means we have to dress in our khakis full. 7/7, as they say it.
I’m so relieved, excited and energetic; I want to scream, jump, weep, and do anything. The Morning Meditation went well. It went so well, the Camp PRO said, “What a brilliant work by Platoon 2. I believe other platoons can see and take note.”
My platoon screams. This is the talk that will make me famous, such that when my name is mentioned, someone will respond with, “The one who read the Morning Meditation? Nice one. You killed it, you really did.”
Take that, other platoons, hahaha.
“Who go tire? Na you go tire!”
“Corpers wee! Wa!”
Man O’ War drills begin in earnest. We jog from the parade ground to another side of the camp.
What is a Man o War drill, you might wonder at this point. Well, have you ever seen pictures of corps members climbing ropes like Tarzan, crawling out of tunnels and posing with wooden guns? Yes, that’s a Man O’ War drill.
It is more fun than parade, but it is also backbreaking. We jump up a stilt and walk to the end using our hands alone. We crawl through a tunnel. We swing from a thick rope. We climb through another tunnel covered with barbed wire. At the end of each activity, photographers mob us: “Look here!” “Smile!”” Look up” “Yes corper look at me, look this way.” It’s like paparazzi mobbing a celebrity. I feel like a hero, like I have saved Nigeria from one huge disaster.
We end the drill with a lecture: do not steal money from Nigeria; don’t go abroad, you too can fix your country. Say God bless Nigeria every morning. Low key, I’m like “Alaye jor jor.”
SAED lectures are next on the list, and even though I tell myself I will stay awake and listen, be a good citizen and stop wasting the money Nigeria paid to train me, I fall asleep some minutes into the lecture.
When I wake up, they are rounding up a presentation on how to write a business proposal, the steps involved in getting a bank to give you a loan. In between, there is a mini drama presentation. And then, we are introduced to the skill tutors.
There’s leather works (shoe and bag making, abeg), tailoring, food preservation (catering), paint production, farming (poultry, fish), make up, cosmetology (how to make perfumes, etc), solar, ICT, etc.
Me I jejely carried myself and joined catering. I’m a chop life gang, plis. Remember that I came to this camp to chop the life of my head? This is the goal, and we’re getting it.
I’m going out of the camp. No, I’m not decamping. I have some issues with my BVN that I need to sort out. To exit the camp, you need to write a letter requesting permission to exit and the reason for exit. The letter goes through your platoon leader first, and after he signs it, it goes to the Camp Director who requests your meal ticket and then writes an exeat behind it. I am given one hour. But I spend more than one. No, I am not being disobedient. The motorcycle that carried me developed a fault, and the bank is far. Hot sun, hot asphalt, dry throat. I wonder if Katsina is a place I can reside in. Here a pictures from the trip:
I am pleased to announce that I have been reinstated as a parade member. Taken straight out of the reject group and brought back to march. I feel elated. The parade is now even more interesting. Slow march and quick march and a sprite of commands that make me feel like I’m whirling in a sandstorm, trying to catch my balance.
The soldiers do a demo march for us, and the sheer alignment and beauty of it is a stunner. When our sergeant returns, we love him the more.
We present our dance at the social night. Look, you’ll probably think I’m biased, but we killed it. We. Killed. It. When we stepped on stage, everyone yelled, especially when our Igbo dancers started to perform magic with their waists. Later, I’ll hear that people complained that our Igbo girls couldn’t dance and that they came to seduce them with their figures.
People and pepper body, sha. But anyway, let them say. That is the energy I am ending this new year with. Let them say.