- This newly sworn in corps members in camp have evoked the moments I had in camp during my three weeks orientation. Here I sit by my window, recalling and visualizing all that went down and the ones I let slip by.
If only I could turn back the hands of time and make up for them. Do we have genies in Africa? Because I need to rub a lamp and my wish granted. Times and moments like this are hardly appreciated right until you fully realize, they will never occur again in life.
For my readers who aren’t Nigerians, NYSC is the acronymn for National Youth Service Corps. It is a scheme set up by the Nigerian government to involve Nigerian graduates in nation-building and the development of the country. This has being going on since 1973, graduates of univeristies and later polytechnics have been required to take part in the National Youth Service Corps program for one year. This is known as national service year.
Then the Nysc Orientation is an “orientation” period of approximately three weeks spent in a military-controlled “camp” away from family and friends. There is also a “passing out ceremony” at the end of the three weeks orientation camp after which corp members are posted to their Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), to work for a year.
I got my call-up letter on 20th October 2018. On it, I saw the information that my NYSC Orientation camp was at Sagamu, Ogun State. I wasn’t excited about it, at all. Obviously, I wanted a different state, almost like everyone else. Figuratively, one of those effervescent states with job opportunities hiding at every nook and cranny. By now you should have an idea of the state I wanted.
On the 23rd of October, I was meant to report to camp but I delayed and showed up on the second day of resumption being 24th. The stories I had from my senior colleagues about camp were unpleasant, the early morning drills, military parade, poor accommodation, and so on; all I thought of was how to ditch this horrible experience. I didn’t just want that stress, luckily enough NYSC always gives three days grace for latecomers, and I made use of it. On my way to camp from Owerri, I met a follow latecomer like me at the airport.
We both got to camp together, checked into the same hostel and became bunkmates; which helped a lot. She was one of those who made camp fun and appealing for me.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have survived the first week without her, in a new environment with almost 2,000 plus strangers struggling to adapt to the rules and regulations of the new place.
Here comes the hot pounded yam with vegetable soup……….
6 Subtle things I wish I did in NYSC Orientation Camp
1. Sports participation: I was supposed to play for my platoon during the inter-platoon volleyball games. The practice was always clashing with the periods I had Red Cross training and meetings. ( I joined the Nigerian Redcross Society in camp) Upon that soldiers didn’t give players time to freshen up for evening parade after practice. I couldn’t deal with such so I gave up. I didn’t carry extra power to Ogun state for such.
2. Night hangouts at Mammy market: Mammy market was and is the life of the camp. Corpers always found it relaxing, a place to cool off and shut out from all the onerous drills of the day. Everything edible was found within this premises. Mammy has the ambiance of a supermarket, boutique, a typical market, restaurant, bar, game house, and club-house all in an open space with segments. I had a favorite spot for dinner with one of my friends in camp.
After eating, both of us would see ourselves walking towards the hostel to bath and sleep.
My bed was my best companion. Every opportunity I had to sleep, I made sure I utilized it exhaustively. It was the only time I felt my body come back together in pieces after a long day under the sun. Mammy at night felt like a bubbling city with the word ‘recession’ extinct and corpers had fun. At least being chatty with friends and platoon members at such time, in an environment where you all endured, experienced and smiled ‘under the sun and in the rain,’ was very comforting indeed.
3. Attend social nights: social nights in camp could be compared to hanging out at the cinema, literally. I mean we were in a confined environment so we improvised and made do of what we had. Social nights gave corpers the opportunity to meet celebrities and showcase their talents. And everyone had the time to meet and interact with other people.
4. Become More of a social butterfly: you know that situation when you just arrive a new environment, you want to first settle and observe before you begin to introduce yourself and mingle with others? That was exactly how it was for me in camp with everybody but my roommates. Maybe I overdid mine, I don’t know. I began to get close to people right about the last week of camp. I realized of late that there were lots of interesting personalities. I felt the pain of knowing that I should have mingled with them earlier than I did; we didn’t know when next we would see ourselves again after the soon-to-end 3 weeks event. The carnival day came, being the last but one day of camp.
Nostalgia played its beats and I danced to it, then I realized I was going to miss so many things about the place I was initially scared of being a part of. The morning assembly, evening parades, mammy market, the troupe of people on white, my roommates, the paps, my new friends. I tried to utilize the carnival day by being more of a social butterfly, and spend time with all those whom I made friends with during the last week. Thereupon, I wished I had omnipresent capabilities, to make myself available everywhere and anywhere I wanted at the same time; time became too priceless.
5. Participate in the Man O’ War drills: These drills are one of the camp’s activities that humorously makes its way to social media. As funny as it appears to be, it is painstakingly adventurous. I tried participating in the drills but got to a stage where my tight Khaki trouser was reluctant to comply but disgrace my womanhood. Then I heard the voice of my ancestors screaming ‘don’t disgrace us in another man’s land!’ so I instantly became a looker.
6. Refrain from redeployment: Yes guys! I redeployed. Distance separated us just at the time we were beginning to get to know ourselves better. Most of us redeployed to different states and those who stay back were posted to different local government areas. NYSC brought us together to appreciate our personal and cultural differences and just at the peak of the whole event, scattered us like grains, and left us with pictures and memories that would never repeat itself but forever linger in our hearts.
Amongst all guys, I’m glad I camped in Ogun state, it has a very lovely and spacious environment with a steady supply of water and light. There were no mosquitoes and sun flies. I would strongly recommend Ogun state camp anytime, any day.
Also, a good thing that I associated fully with my crazy and lovely roommates. With them, every night was a tale of frivolous personal encounters at the Mammy market.
Cheers to all the beautiful people I met and associated with, we might not cross paths again in life but you all will forever have a colorful chapter in my history.
My little advice for Nigerian graduates yet to camp is; no matter what state you are posted to, don’t take it to heart. Remember, easy does it. Get there and create fun for yourself with the resources and people around you, and make the best out of the three weeks. Don’t go there to become a lone wolf like me. Open your mind, meet people, interact, integrate and see the fun side of every camp activity, it can’t always be that bad.
Thanks for stopping by, I’ll see you when next I see you on the blog.
Hugs X Kisses.
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And for my fellow ex-corps members, do you miss service year and your camp experience? Cos I do, especially my #19,800.😫😅
NB, this post has already been published on my tutor Africa.