Humility and Service       NYSC


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NYSC
 

 

Now your suffering continues (NYSC) a colloquial acronym for the National Youth Service Corps in Nigeria.
A one-year period when you are expected to serve your country in humility. (Yeah riiiight!!!)

 

 

My Camp Experience

 
     
Well, how do I start, Let me see, yeah Camp was ..oh boy.. what an experience, sadness, laughter, Joy, all kinds of emotions pass through my mind as I reminisce, let me start from the very beginning.

The camp at Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos State is situated away from the nerve center of the densely populated city. I don't know why, but I guess it's just to keep the corpers focused on their mission at the camp. I arrived the camp a day after we were told to report, and I immediately felt the pain of such a decision.  The facilities were ..umm...well... let me just say very inadequate compared to what one was used to in school. The parade ground, hostels (very inadequate, considering the number of corpers allocated to each room), kitchen, dinning hall, Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS). sports, Man 'O' War drilling facilities were the major landmarks of the three-week orientation.

My arrival at the camp, signaled for me the commencement of what you'd term "stress". Even the registration of "Jambites" (First year students) in the universities and polytechnics was not as frustrating as it was before the swearing in. Allocations of bed space and collection & collection of kits was something else, anyway I passed through all that not without sweat anyway, as I was hustling and jostling my way to get what was meant to be mine.

After we had been sworn in by the Governor of the State (He didn't show up, but was represented by one of the state commissioners), it now dawned on the commandant and his boys to go about the usual business of inculcating discipline, selflessness and dedication under the sun or in the rain (those words!!!). Those who were not used to rising from bed at 4:00am had their sleep broken by the noise of the bugle to prepare them for the early morning exercises and drills.

After the usual singing of the NYSC anthem, the drills commenced which predominantly was jogging and other physical exercises including the Man 'O' War exercise. After three to fours of perspiration, we were allowed to take a ridiculous rest, bath and breakfast in 30 minutes and assemble back for the 2nd segment.

This segment was absolutely military regimentation and indoctrination. "Left,right", "about turn", "preshon" "tanda hai". All these commands overwhelmed my academic psyche and one felt like a graduate army officer. (Not that I'm complaining, after all I went to a military school, so I guess I should have been used to that kinda stuff, but hey! it's been ages since I was on any type of parade, so... anyway..story continues)

The Endurance trek would remain in the memory of corp members. Command Secondary School, Ipaja  is a reference point in this regard. About 8,000 Corp members trooped out of the camp for a trek that lasted about 9hrs covering about 30km. I guess this was the turning point for corpers psyche as everybody began to count down to passing out day, when they would regain their freedom. It was not all drills afterall. The bars and joints in mammy market hosted a lot of corp members for post dinner pleasures. Some in the process, drank themselves silly, but it was all good clean fun.

The drama, cultural dances and inter-platoon sports competition added a tinge of excitement to the entire camp activities. While we watched wonderful dancing steps from each platoon, we also has interesting drama presentations from each platoon which projected the love and unity among corp members. The Gala Night produced the "Miss Camp" with some rib cracking side attractions and performances, the camp fire climaxed the activities. A huge bonfire burnt till dawn as corp members danced round it.

Then came the tragic explosions at the Ikeja barracks, with bombs going off (a night before the end of the orientation) and people running helter-skelter (not that one knew where to run to, but there was no other option) It was a sad and very scary event which I'm not going to forget in a hurry, but thank GOD we survived.

Shortly after, the Orientation was declared closed by the Governor, (again represented by someone, I wonder why he didn't come...hmm... oh well) there was a mixture of sadness, joy and mixed feelings occasioned by the posting to places of primary assignments. There were loud cries from those that were not happy with their posting and laughter from those who saw their posting as gold mined areas.

However, the whole camp was quickly deserted, with everybody hurrying to their places of primary assignment so as to settle in as quickly as possible.

A
ll in all, it was fun, Well to all the "Ajuwaya" of 2001/2002 set, congratulations on a successful service year.!
 

Copyright 2002.  / John Okoroafor.  All Rights Reserved..

  
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