Ever since I finished my NYSC, I have always wanted to share my experiences in camp, but the problem has always been “what do I write, how do I start, where do I start from”. How I wish I had a diary of all my experiences during my 21 days on camp, but I don’t. I always felt diaries were for girls, but now I know better.
Before NYSC, I had always thought the camp was like a standard camp with everything in place, but I was so wrong and disappointed! Got to camp at about 11:00pm and met a long queue of corpers waiting to be checked before getting into the camp. It was freezing cold that night and I was on my shorts and tee shirt, nobody told me that the harmmattan in Maiduguri was also as severe as the heat. Finally it was my turn to be checked, I got to the security post and the soldiers there were using torch. The camp had no electricity and that night, the generator was off. The soldier flashed the torch at my face; he laughed and said “Ajebutta oya carry your bag for head make you run enter”. I was like excuse me sir, what offence did I commit? He shouted at me, I almost melted on the spot “otondo I dey mad?” Immediately I put my bag on my head and ran inside.
I got inside the camp and saw people scattered on the field with their bags in the dark, then I saw light afar off and I walked towards the place. Met some people making photocopies of their credentials and stuff, it was like a business centre with a generator, except that it was under a tree. I approached one NYSC official and asked “Sir, how do I locate my hostel so I can sleep this night” He laughed and said “which bed space, do you think you are in your father’s house?” that night I slept on a chair, people slept anywhere sleep met them that night.
The first three days of camp was hell, in fact the first week was hell. Had to go through registration for the first three days, under the hot sun during the day and freezing cold during the night. We were so many, so the newly built lecture hall had to be converted to a male hostel. We had to hustle bunks and mattress to get a place in the hall. My first friend was Tope, a guy I met on the plane. We were best of friends on camp, and we hustled almost everything on camp, including a place to sleep. He took the top bunk, and I took the lower bunk. I finally registered on the third day and got my Camp number “1207” which meant I was going to be in platoon seven.
Our first address by the camp commandant was more of a plea, he begged us to take plenty water because of the sun during the day and the severe harmmattan during the night. He said “on this camp there is nothing like too much water.” Some people disobeyed, and before we knew it some corpers started coughing and urinating blood. It was then we all took the plea very serious.
All through the first week, I never used the toilet because the toilet was so terrible that nobody went near it. Taking my bath was easier for me, because I had noticed that people always took their bath early in the morning and late at night when it was dark. After the first week off not using the toilet, I was forced to ask my friend tope; how far, how you dan dey shit since we enter camp, his answer was not a solution at all, apparently we were the same dilemma.
So I had to ask someone else, he laughed and said “you dey this camp and u no know shit island?” so he took me to shit island, I was amazed when I got there. I saw heads of people squatting and doing their thing, that night was the night felt like I officially joined the camp 🙂 . Ok let me explain Shit Island to you; an open space, very wide with nothing green on it (obviously, Maiduguri is like a desert). The magical part of it was that, the place never smells. The sun and the Harmmattan did justice to that. Every form of shit would get dried up by the sun, solidified by the cold and would turn to sand.
The food on camp was a let-down, am not trying to be tribalistic, but hausa’s suck at cooking. The watered soup never had pepper in it, the tea was worse than coloured water; the rice was always like tuwo. The only times I always queue up for food was when it was time for bread, boiled egg and coloured water. The coloured water more like getting hot water, because I would always add my own milo and milk to it. My food problem was solved after like the fourth day, Mami market was my saviour. Fried potato and stew during the day, and ponded yam and egusi during the night was my daily meal all through my stay on camp.
Mixing with people was a problem, almost all of us were from the west and majority couldn’t communicate in simple English. It was so bad that during the registration exercise, some people couldn’t fill their forms themselves. You begin to wonder how bad our education has gotten. It was in camp I learnt to speak Yoruba fluently, because I just had to mix with awon boys and all they did was speak in Yoruba, English was like latin to them.
After the first week, I had a female friend who was on the same plane with me and Tope on our way to Maiduguri, coincidentally we were in the same platoon so I saw her more often. We would hang out after all the parades of the day and gist. Oh I forgot about the issue of phones, like I said earlier in the post, the camp had no electricity so our make shift hostel also had no electricity, so charging of phones was business on camp, and it was 50naira per charge.
Ok let me talk about my platoon, platoon seven was kinda fun, even though I was always dodging when it came to parades in the afternoon, because of the scotching sun. But in the mornings, once you are out of you bed, and out of the hostel nobody would beg you to join the parade. It was so cold and dusty that we all had gloves and nose masks early in the morning, and we would start jogging even before the parade starts, just to keep warm. Each platoon had to take part in camp activities like drama, miss camp, football, volleyball, cooking etc etc.
Camp activities were some of the best part of my 21 days, I only took part in football, even though I didn’t get a chance to play until the my team was knocked out in the semi-finals, and the coach now gave other players an opportunity to play in the 3rd place match. I didn’t last the first half before I got injured and was taken to the clinic to stop the bleeding. We won the 3rd place though so I was happy in the end. My platoon won Mr Macho, came last in Miss camp (lol all the girls in my platoon were ugly, except my Jumoke sha but she was short and could not contest), we came second in the cooking competition and won the drama competition.
Hmmmm lemme talk about the setting of P’s that happened in camp, I met all kinds of loose people on camp. People had sex anywhere and everywhere on camp, some girls slept with soldiers just to get posted to the capital. My own experience wasn’t that bad, even though I had some girls on my case in camp. They were bent on getting down with me by all means, even if I wanted to; the way the girls looked was a let-down. They were way older, ugly, big bellied, dirty and so on. There was no way I was going to have sex with them, no way! There was this one who told me “No worry ehn, you no need enter, just use your d*** rub the entrance of my t*t*” I was so disguted, I avoided her all through my stay on camp.
I was beginning to miss football, the epl and the champion’s league were on going and I just couldn’t miss it for anything. So I asked awon boys in the room, how far na how we go watch champions league tomorrow na? That was the first day I knew of an escape route in camp, a big hole in the fence close to one of the deserted parts of the camp. I had a choice, risk breaking out of camp and watch the match or be a good corper and miss the match. I opted for the risk, and the next day about five of us in our mufti broke out of camp to watch the champion’s league. We knew nothing about the city, we couldn’t speak the language so there was going to be a big problem, the signs were there but all we had on our minds was football. We finally located a viewing centre, thanks to the loud sound of football commentary. The place was like a mini stadium, over 500 people with three projectors and 3 different matches. After the match there was a problem, we couldn’t locate our camp, we kept roaming about till it was very late, and we were scared to ask anybody. We finally had to ask a man, but unknown to us he was one of the soldiers posted to the camp who also went to watch the matches. We were in trouble! Before we knew it, he called his partners who were at the back. One of the guys suddenly noticed one of the soldiers, and shouted at us “RUN RUN RUN”. We took off in different directions, and the soldiers started chasing us. The two fastest guys had gone far away, and we were just three left, with me at the back obviously. Suddenly I fell down, and the soldiers were getting close, I stood up again took off my slippers and continued on my bare feet. Finally, the soldiers were out of sight and we slowed down, then we saw a small boy who just pointed to our left, behold it was the hole on the fence of the camp! We more like dived through the hole into the camp and crept into the hostel. That night wasn’t funny at all.
While on camp, I developed this weird addiction to Smirnoff ice thanks to mami market. Mami market was another world on its own, boys and girls would register their presence as early as 4pm till its night out. I enjoyed the suya very much and off course my daily meals also.
Endurance trek was another fun but tedious part of the camp, the journey was long, but it was fun walking as a group round the capital fully kitted in our NYSC uniform. The camp band gave us music all through the trek, and for those who were weak and fainted along the way, there was the first aid van to help out.
How can I forget the fire alarm night? It wasn’t funny at all. Normally the soldiers would wake us up at 5:30am for the early morning parade, but on this fateful day they woke us up at 2:00am and forced us to the parade ground with our sleepy eyes, and did a roll call of all the corpers. Surprisingly, some corpers were missing and they automatically had an extension for their service year.
Am trying not to miss anything out, remember I said earlier that because of the population of the corpers on camp, the newly built lecture hall was converted to a male hostel. We were about 500 male corpers in that hall, trust me, it was another community on camp. The hall was fun, different characters and madness existed in that hall. There was this dude that was always drunk every night, and would only enter the hall when everyone was asleep, once he enters he starts to shout “I DAN SHOW, NA ME BE THIS, I DAN SHOW, WHERE DEM DEY, UNA PAPA” He did that shit every single night and somehow we got used to him. We also had our own carnival in the hall, where we invited girls to come over and everyone had fun.
I also made sure I participated in all the man – o – war activities, just for the pictures and for the fun of it, the rope bridge was the most scary of them all, I thought I was gonna fall off but I made it through J. Yeah how can I forget our laundry on camp, it was made so easy by the sun, once you wash your stuffs during the day, just spread it and sit beside it for about 15minutes, and its dried. It was like magic, but the sun was always extremely hot in camp (it was so hot during the day that, you only get dehydrated, but u won’t sweat. So instead of taking off or clothes because of the heat, we actually had to wear more to cover our whole body so that the sun dsnt burn our body). The only time I didn’t sit by my stuffs after washing, I went to fetch water and before I got back, everything was gone 🙁
Camp fire night was the best part of camp; it was the last fun thing on camp before everyone got posted to his/her various locations, plus everybody was allowed to be on mufty. That day I outdid myself with alcohol, I had a pack of don simon in the afternoon, several cans of don simon (I lost count after the 9th can), then when the fire started I left mami market with another pack of don simon. It was only a matter of time before I started showing the effect of the alcohol intake, it was so bad I got so close to the fire and I felt no heat, my friends had to rush and drag me away from the fire. Somehow I still had my senses, and I noticed I was misbehaving so I found somewhere to sit down. Little did I know that the girl I spoke about earlier was watching, she was gonna have her way with me, since I was high. Luckily for me Jumoke called me, I picked and I told her where I was; that was my escape 🙂
Overall, I think I had more fun on camp, but it was more like I had to adjust to the suffering, just to make the best out of the situation on camp. Even though I fell sick once and got a few injections, and I had constant catarrh, because of the harmattan and the dust. It was so bad that anytime I blew my nose, it was blood and mucus that came out, and it also got to a time I had to stop using tissue paper on my nose, because it was beginning to peel; so I had to use water only. I still think it was fun in its own way, an experience I can never forget. The day the camp ended was kinda sad, it then dawned on us that it was now every man for himself.
Oops I almost forgot the tale of the corper who had asthma but didn’t know what an inhaler was. Funny abi? Lol na so we see am o. Ok let me just brief you what happened; many corpers wanted to get a reposting back to different states after camp on health grounds, so many of them had come prepared with letters from hospitals, faking different sicknesses just to get reposted back to a state of their choice. So there was this particular guy who said he had asthma, during his interview the doctor asked “what do you do when you have your crisis”, the boy didn’t even know what crisis meant, so the doctor had to make it simpler “when the asthma comes, what you always do”, the boy answered “I always pray” 😀 . The doctor was like, you pray? What of your inhaler? The boy replied again “Me I don’t use inhaler unless it will get worse”. . . Lol, obviously the boy was lying, and that was the end of his re posting process. Also there was a woman who was supposedly married, and wanted to redeploy on family grounds. She had her marriage certificate, the camp commandant collected and asked her “what is your husband’s surname?” you won’t believe that she didn’t know the name of her supposed husband! That was when everybody knew it was a lie, she wasn’t married, and the marriage certificate was fake.
I think that’s all I can re-collect, hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂