Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Residues of Kubwa Camp — One.

For the past twenty something days, I have been locked away at the Orientation Camp of the National Youth Service Corps in Kubwa, Federal Capital Territory. I had looked forward to the NYSC for a while prior, especially the orientation camp because of the flowery, fun things I'd heard about it. Unfortunately, there were really no flowers (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively), just a lot of change and things that I needed to adapt to if I was to survive. The weather, for instance, was far too cold and the rains were pouring down a little too much and we were always wearing very light, white shirts with white short knickers. And most nightmarish, I had to wake up at 3 AM consistently for those three weeks.  Pullovers were not allowed, no matter how cold the weather was. The most interesting and fascinating things about the camp were the extremely interesting people I got to meet. Folks of all kinds, the kinds of people I doubted existed. The girl, Jane, who never had anything good to say about anything (and I'm not even exaggerating), or Ken, who would refuse to spend his money to save his own life. The soldiers and Men o' War, even though for most of the time they dedicated themselves to making our lives hell, they were a bunch of fun: like the short, dark man o' war guy, man, actually who absolutely loved to sing and dance and call fat girls 'worwor' (ugly). Or the really old, close-to-retirement soldier, who we simply referred to as papi, who's first words in camp were 'Papi in the building.' The people were fun. The people are fun.
One thing I learnt and understood more than I had ever, one thing I am now 101 percent sure of is that Nigeria is a beautiful country seasoned with delicious people with absolutely fantastic cultures and behaviors. The average Nigerian does not really give a damn about the polity even though the polity is in shambles. The average Nigerian does not really care whether the person standing next to him is Hausa or Igbo or Yoruba or Oworo or Efik or whatever. I've learnt that the only reason ethnicity occurs to us, the only reason our differences, minute as they are, come up is because of the people we have leading us. All the recycled politicians that have been politicians since independence and will continue to be. But I'm not about to rant about Nigerian politicians. Not now.
I must applaud the idea behind the NYSC, it really is a brilliant scheme, a brilliant scheme whose existence is in serious threat, though. Corruption threatens to ruin it. I will explain with this analogy: The government provides money, say, 1500 Naira (this is the amount circulated in the usual corp member gossip. I'm not sure of it.) for one meal, for each corp member. Now 1500 Naira is a lot of money and could get you overfed and fat in twenty one days, but the meals actually given out are pathetic, disgraceful even. They're like rations handed to prisoners on death row, just enough to keep you alive, put something in your stomach and nothing more, like in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, it's ridiculous. So most people settle for eating food that they'd pay for since this would actually satisfy them. Remember that the government purportedly gives 1500 Naira for one meal, so you wonder what happens to all that money. The organization needs to be looked into and maybe even revamped. I don't want to discuss the cows, but there's the thing about the cows, put your mind to work, guys.

There were lots and lots of stories that I jotted down in bits and pieces. Stories of the orientation camp and I plan to pour them all out here, in time. I'm not promising a series or a Sunday, Sunday tonic, or whatever. I'll be the first to admit that I am not regular around here enough to do that. However I will put down a few things as the months go by. They could be helpful to incoming corp members and they could make good reads to folks who aren't. So welcome to the RESIDUES OF KUBWA CAMP! See y'all next time.

Keep Dreaming! 

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