A few months ago we began the NYSC Diaries, which covered inside life stories of NYSC in Nigeria. Stories like things NYSC corps members can relate to or what to do when you’re posted to a faraway place, like Borno.
A new NYSC batch has been called in for camp. So, everyday by 1:30PM for the next 21 days, one of our writers will be sharing his day-to-day camp experiences.
I’ve just finished leading the entire camp in prayers. Pastor David. As I’m walking back to my platoon, the woman who addresses us every morning calls me back. I go to meet her.
“Nice prayers,” she says. “God will give you more strength.” I’m smiling. I say amen.
“You were saying a lot of ‘uhm’. How can you be saying ‘uhm’ while praying. Everyone will just think you’re unserious. Learn to pray without saying ‘uhm’.”
I tell her thank you and I leave. She’s nice. I will stop saying ‘uhm’ when I’m praying.
It’s a mostly uneventful day, so I go to get lunch. Bole and pomo. It used to be bole and fish, but please, fish is expensive. Me and the woman are gisting. We’re friends now. She starts talking about her life so I ask her if I can record her and write some stuff.
Here’s some stuff I found interesting:
“I came to Abuja from Benue in 2000. My dad died when I was four, so I came to live with my aunt. She put me through to get my O-Levels before she passed away. In 2008, a found out about selling food in Mami Market and told me to try it out. I wasn’t interested, but somehow, she convinced me, so I came here, registered and started business.
It was terrible. There were already about five women here selling fish, and I started with low capital, so when they would be roasting a lot of fish, I would have only three on my pan. Nobody bought from me. The corp members would come out and troop to all those other women and nobody would buy from me. I was getting depressed.
I’m Catholic, so I decided pray about the situation. I did a novena (prayer and fasting for nine days). On the ninth day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He told me that instead of roasting only three pieces of fish, I should buy a whole carton and roast it all at once. I didn’t even consider disobeying once. I just did it. The first time I did it, I sold out in minutes. And that’s how business success started for me.
In the next few years, I transitioned between roasting fish and selling drinks. We used to sell alcohol on this camp until a few years ago when we got a new administration. After about three years, I started selling actual food. My restaurant is called “Winners”. I’m not selling food this time because of COVID. The administration only wanted a few food sellers so I decided not to do food. In fact, this is my first time of selling bole.
I’ll be honest, I really don’t like the the roasting job. The heat is unreal. Even when you’re asleep, after a long day and a bath, you can still feel the heat inside you. And there’s no getting used to it, you feel the same thing everyday. I can’t wait for COVID to go away so I can get back to selling my food. I’m tired of selling bole.”
I’ve always said it. The chickens in this place are not normal. They are angry. This chicken with new chicks just started chasing this woman unprovoked. She had to drop her bags and run. Lowkey, I’m a terrible person because I couldn’t control my laughter. The chicken stopped chasing the woman when I brought out my phone to record though.
Another opportunity to have a viral video on the internet, gone.
In case you missed it: