Ok, the thing is I hate the idea of being camped in a place I wasn’t familiar with, living with strangers and being watched every second by members of the Army, Police force and Man O’ War wasn’t exactly my idea of serving my nation. I wanted to get out as soon as I got in.
Let me gist you how NYSC orientation camp was for me
The first day – I arrived at my Ise Emure, Ekiti camp with two of my friends and I just didn’t like what I saw. I tried settling in when I realised I had over fifty room mates. I was still mad and wondering how in God’s name the Federal Government and NYSC directors expected us to cope when I found out my bunk wasn’t well balanced. The thing was going back and forth like a rocking chair.
I was fuming with anger, I asked one of the officials to direct me to another room and he said “my friend, this is your room and that is your bed“. I hissed and spoke all the words in my English vocab. My friends whom you can call Puffy and Sheila couldn’t believe it too but we all kept our cool and didn’t mix with the others while they chatted and socialized.
Night came sha and we had to use the toilet, we all went to the toilet and what did we see? It was as if the whole country had come to empty their bowels in this one place. We covered our noses and ran. The toilet had obviously not been washed in months! We looked for other places and it was the same story. We were then left with one option; shot put. Well, don’t raise eyebrows jare, everyone did it in that camp. Yes now, except they didn’t use toilet in three weeks.
The next morning, while we were going to have our baths, I tripped and fell down the stairs. It was a bad fall and I almost cried sef, I was cranky all day and I hardly responded to the soldiers. I cursed the government that started NYSC. Later that day, I received the worst news I have gotten this year, my friend, Jide Olusola Jnr had passed on. I cried my heart out. Orientation camp, terrible fall and then Jnr’s death? I wanted to just go hide somewhere and fastforward the three weeks.
The height of my travails came days later when we were rudely woken up in the middle of the night to go wash the toilet! I couldn’t believe it, wash the toilet I met soiled? Lailai! Olorun maje! We didn’t wash it but of course our punishment was to stand in the cold for hours. I preferred that. The next day, we were divided into platoons. I hated everyone in my platoon! Most of them thought it was an extension of their classrooms in school! They all wanted to talk at once and lord their own ideas over everyone’s.
While telling myself how much I hated my new group members, I saw Chima, an old friend in school. He had this new friend Ada. I liked her from the moment I saw her, very cool, she made me laugh and laugh and laugh, I just found one good thing in NYSC. Then I realised both of them were in my platoon. Ope o! I screamed inside. Some sane cool people! Honestly, it was as if Ada and Chima opened my fun eyes, I loosened up a little and started talking to a few people(boys especially) and before I knew it, I met Lanre, Tobi, Peter (Sparks), Tolu, Paul, Kunle, Saviour, Kole, Redkad (yes, the rapper, do a search for his songs on 360noBS), that list is endless o!
With those people, NYSC camp days moved faster than ever. I made friends with 2 soldiers and ran away from drills (not my fault! That Ekiti can be cold!) We almost got into trouble one morning though, when we were asked to squat and frog jump which they call “sqo down“. But after a few minutes, he told us to go.
I loved NYSC camp for the new cool people it gave me the opportunity to meet, the really crazy songs I learnt, I liked this one the most:
Shoe get size x2
Okrika get quality x2
Ashawo get x2
Ashawo get customer
And when our allowance was increased I looooved the added line
Allowi don get double.
I could sing that line!
And the best thing I learnt is that, I can actually adapt and survive through any situation. But then I still don’t get the idea of NYSC camp sha.
For Enitan, she’d cleared her schedule and in fact dropped her BB at home. For her it was the last opportunity for shedding her tomboyish attitude and childishness. She’d arrived at the camp gate and was searched by policewomen for contraband. “Absolute crap” she called it when narrating to us how silly and unnecessary the search was, especially since her room mate successfully smuggled in a boiling ring and used it all through camp.
Enitan used it too of course. More than the owner sef.(Shh don’t tell!) Mami market wasn’t a fun spot or hangout for her. All she got from there was food and water, when we asked her why, she said
Well, I’m not as intellectual as Coco would like everyone to believe but I don’t understand why NYSC took the liberty of admitting all the Old Men Of Nigeria Association (OMNA) into camp. No fine boys at all! Just old pot bellied men, who resumed to drink at the mami market 8am and went back 10pm!
To think I went to camp to find husband but all I did was roll my eyes at the sight of those men. It’s by God’s grace I still have eyes now sef.
Whenever the bugle called everyone out for morning drills, Enitan said
Me that I always sing D’prince‘s “Jonzing world” for them and sleep off in my secluded room. The only period I went out was when I had to sign attendance in my platoon!
She added that “I used to bandage my two legs sef when I go out and limp so they’ll exclude me from drills” when asked what she did for her platoon, she replied
I was kuku morally upright o, until I realised that was the crappiest group I have ever been! They started showing ‘we-re’ and I showed them who is boss (evil laughter). It was in my group that there was a no brainer named Ruth, who believed she knew all and was always putting everyone down and a contestant for Mr Macho felt because he had Johnny Bravo muscles, he could win anything!
She quickly added
Before you think I went to camp to look for trouble and be a naughty girl, I was Director of socials o! And I choreographed the whole Miss NYSC show and was the concept innovator for the MTN talent hunt in camp. And I made fabulous friends, Bola (craziest girl I’ve met till date), Anita(was my friend before, but I think camp made us like each other better), Chima (the awesomest boy ever, someone else has topped him outside camp sha). Whew! NYSC camp, what can I say? But you can decide if it was fun right?
Reanne never wanted to be in Ebonyi state but she was posted there and she hated the whole camp. She kept to herself, kept a straightface and didn’t talk to anyone in camp. The soldiers made her stay worse because they drilled them all day and never really let them rest. Her bestfriend was her earpiece with which she listened to music all day and shut the whole camp out.
A week moved slowly and looked like a year. Her room mates, slept late and always woke up early. To sleep early, she turned to one or two bottles of alcohol everynight to help induce sleep. Well, somehow she noticed this really fine boy who had lovely pink lips and who never for once seemed to notice her.
She watched him talk to all the girls around but her and she began to wonder if he was blind. Well, he “regained” his sight and walked up to her. It wasn’t chemistry, but it was something that helped her go through three weeks. Pink lips stopped our friend’s incessant complains and she fell in love with what NYSC camp had to offer.
So NYSC camp was such an experience …three weeks I won’t like to have back but would always smile when I remember.