Finally got myself to sit down and try to complete this series I started. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like we are ending it soon.
So after obtaining the kit, I had to check to see what fitted right and what didn’t and check with other people to see who I could make an exchange with.
(I should probably post a couple of tips and tricks later on. No promises so I’m not held ransom. By myself.)
This is actually common practice in the scheme and in my case, I had really big boots and khaki and I luckily found someone with a smaller size for the boot but I had no chance getting an exchange for the khaki as it turned out a lot of us got bigger sizes than smaller sizes. So off I went to MAMI. This is basically the market in camp where you can make purchases ranging from food, drinks, snacks, and all those other ‘pleasure’ food items which I didn’t expect to meet in camp. And of course, tailors who were really good, by the way. When I first realized that I would be charging my phone at this market (as there were no sockets in the rooms) which meant leaving it amongst thousands of other mobiles for hours, I didn’t welcome the idea at first. I mean, it could get stolen or claimed by another person. But as it was a necessity, I soon warmed up to the reality. Besides, phones were given tags with their owner’s name on them. So it was pretty safe, I thought.
I joined the parade the very next day. I had looked forward to participating for so long that I was ready to stomp that feet on the ground as commanded by my platoon soldier. In camp, part of what you get registered for at the initial stage is your platoon. I was placed in platoon number one.
Always number one, ko easy! Lol!
So yeah, the parade practice was not just for the fun of it o. it’s a serious something as we were actually being prepped up for the big day—the passing out occasion. Every other day, after the usual morning exercises (which was another exciting highlight of camp life) and camp devotion/ announcements, those of us who had shown interest in the parade would wait behind while other corpers graduates proceeded to having breakfast and whatnot.
You see that parade selection ehn, many graduates intentionally perform badly so they can be pulled out from the line by the commanders. Initially, it was compulsory for all but I guess if the soldiers didn’t do it that way, many wouldn’t actually volunteer for it. So after the parade, I would then proceed to have breakfast but sadly, I soon realized there was actually no extra time allocated for those of us who partake in the parade.
On several occasions, as we are ‘travelling’ to our hostels to shower and eat, the beacon would go off for the next usual activity of the day which was the part of the day many of us dread the most—the seminars. Those seminars were literally blood-sucking. Although, I must admit, not all but most were. With time, I noticed that a good number of the speakers always gave employment tips and basically life-after-NYSC gists. They were good though, quite helpful and informative. But repetition like I said is something I don’t really like.
Oftentimes, these seminars would last for hours and during that time, I would look around to count the number of people asleep. The ‘very epic’ poses of some people while asleep often made me giggle. LOL! I know that sounds naughty but it was a good distraction for me in those times. I couldn’t t imagine the paparazzi taking shots of me asleep o. But forget, there were times I did shut those tired eyes. It was just necessary. Sometimes we would go on a break and return to a sequel but with another speaker on stage. The next thing in line would be lunch. The beacon for that purpose would go off as the seminar was coming to an end. At this time, aside eating, you could actually catch a good sleep, use your phone, chat, or even get water for taking a cool shower afterwards, amongst others, as there were often less queues at the taps at this hour.
After the brief resting period, we were summoned once again for another hour of intensive parade practice. I couldn’t complain. I was enjoying it. From then on we would rest again and come out for the social night. In camp, every night was social night and we were forced to participate in every single thing. Even if it’s just being a spectator. But for me, when I had had it with the stage presentations, I would sneak back into my room and off to sleep. Some nights were fun though, especially whenever the comedian of the camp mounted the stage. He was actually a major highlight. He was just too funny to miss at the socials.
After the socials, another beacon would then go off to indicate the ‘send-off’ to sleep. Before then, one would have had dinner. And the cycle repeats itself up until the mandatory three-week camp period elapses.
On the morning of the swearing-in day, we were all asked to assemble on the parade ground, fully kitted (in the crested vest and khaki preferably) under that mighty hot sun, awaiting the arrival of the governor of Oyo state, as is the norm at every other camp across the nation. Of course he didn’t show up. He sent a representative.
That day ehn, we had to stand while the speaker spoke to us about stuff sha (I wasn’t listening o) but in case one got tired, we had been instructed earlier to sit at the back of the assembly, where it wouldn’t be noticeable. By now, a lot of us had taken comfort as directed but I didn’t want to. I decided to instead test my limits and soon some of the guys in my platoon labelled me a source of motivation. Lol! It was funny watching them say to themselves that if I could do it, they could too.
We stood for hours mehn but with time it was over. And we got back to the other usual activities as the parade time had lasted from morning up until the time we were usually dismissed from the seminars. Other activities in camp included sport competitions such as football and volleyball as well as cooking competitions, man-o-war day, endurance trek and bonfire night.
Now, about the man-o-war.
Each platoon took turns each day to partake in the man-o-war drills which took place at a demarcated part of the camp called man-o-war village. Here, all kinds of obstacle courses such as tug-of war, wall climbing, just to mention a few. Long story short, the man-o-war was another activity I anticipated and enjoyed eventually.
The BONFIRE NIGHT which was actually supposed to be the ‘littest’ activity turned out to be the one with the lowest expectation for me. The camp director, on that night, seemed to be pissed off about something I don’t even remember and so the punishment was to ‘kill the vibe’ basically of the night. But it was just fine though and we danced round the fire, chanting some babalawo-ish songs like cultists celebrating a new member.
The ENDURANCE TREK
This is a long trek as the name implies. In my camp, we took off the trek from camp to the site that formally used to be the state’s camp which wasn’t that much of a distance if you ask me. From the moment we left camp up until the old site, music was played and we were basically just grooving. More like ‘bonfire day’. It was an expository experience and I loved the part where the traffic had to take a pause whenever we needed to cross the road as we moved in droves.
In camp, I didn’t quite make new friends. I basically hung around people I knew from uni. Thinking of it now actually reminds me that camp was somewhat ‘Igbo-guys’ laden. I mean like ‘thick Igbo fluent’ guys which wasn’t attractive at all. Or maybe I didn’t really ‘explore’ the camp. There were actually some that were good though. Turned out that a good number of them where Oyo corpers and so leaving camp kinda ended the friendship. Lol!
See you on the next part. I hope you enjoyed reading.