Uchechukwu writes from Kebbi state, this is part 2 (here is part 1). She is now settling in, she fills us in on the drills, thrills, frills and dramas associated with the three weeks camping of the NYSC program. The NYSC Diary Series is edited and compiled by Ediale Kingsley.
At the break of dawn, I woke up to a lot of noise. People were still coming in and settling down. I was allocated a bed space in Room 6. The room was really large and it contained more than 20 bunk beds. I soon started calling it a hall. It would be disrespectful to call a space that large a room.
My next bunk neighbor, Mayowa, (we survived the journey together and we got acquainted during the journey) woke me up and reminded me of registration. We decided to go together but later on she changed her mind and I went alone. At this point, my phone battery was dead and I heard from hall gist that I could charge my phone at mammy market so I found my way there. In the course of getting familiar with my new environment, I ran into Bolaji, another journey acquaintance, we decided to brave the hussle of registration together. Later on, we ran into Mayowa again but after trying to stay together and get everything done, we finished registration separately. We finished registration and decided to sort out space management in our hall. I felt under spaced. I love large spaces but in this situation, I only had my bed space to myself and I did not like it one bit.
Sadly space was not going to be my only problem, camp food was another issue. Almost every meal that had the privilege of coming out of the camp kitchen had crayfish in it.
And we had the same meal every 2–3 days: Bread and Tea, Eba, Tuwo, Rice, Beans and Yam. But then, mammy market was always there to save lives.
We started drills the next day and we were divided into platoons according to the last number in our state code, I was in Platoon 6! We were drilled on the basic parade commands by our parade commanders. Three parade commanders and two Man O’ War personnel were assigned to each platoon. In platoon 6, we had two male and one female parade commander and two male Man O’ War personnel.
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“Attention! (although it was mispronounced “pression”), At ease!” Our platoon commanders yelled. This was to be the routine for the next couple of days. At some point, they randomly picked platoon members to command the rest of the platoon to pick out those with loud voices that could command the platoon. And yours truly was picked to command her platoon!
The platoon commanders were impressed with my yelling skills. I was impressed as well and it was at that moment I realized that all those times I yelled at my siblings was God low key preparing me for big things.
Our oath taking ceremony took place on Thursday and by then we had graduated from the basic parade commands to giving hearty cheers to the governor. So that day everything went well. We saluted the governor, gave hearty cheers, signed oaths and the ceremony ended. But earlier on, our parade officer had told us to wait behind for platoon elections, we were going to elect platoon executives. It was quite a rowdy election. The president was elected, turned out to be a fellow we would only see occasionally but never when we needed him. I was nominate for the position of the vice president but I did not make it to the end of the primaries, my fellow miniature parade commander, Dasola, won majority of the votes for that position. Then I campaigned for the position of the social director. And I won majority of the votes.
Now there was a problem, I did not know jack about the position of a social director. I had never fully participated in social activities or even planned or executed a social activity before then. The platoon officer was not even very helpful with giving me details about what being a platoon social director entailed. He just said ‘you would be involved in organizing social events in camp’. ‘Ehn, excuse me sah, social events? Please elaborate sah’ I was about to ask but then his attention was needed elsewhere and just like that, I was dismissed.
I was going to have to figure these things on my own but then fate smiled on me as an announcement came through the Public Address System attached to the pavilion: “all social directors of all platoons, your attention is needed at the Orientation Broadcasts Service (OBS) studio by 5pmtomorrow (Friday)”. I was really happy about this golden piece of information.
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Friday, 5pm prompt, I was at the OBS studio where I met Maureen, social director and Kiki, her assistant from Platoon 4. It was at this meeting that we were briefed about hows and why’s of social activities on camp. Apparently, each platoon had to organize social night consequently for 10 nights and during each social night, there would be competitions for all the platoons to participate in (one competition per night). And on each platoon’s programme for social night, it was compulsory that there had to be cultural dance and drama. I had to plan and make announcements and speak to my platoon mates.
Fast forward to the first social gathering, each platoon was called to perform or showcase a talent. I started panicking, because I was seated among the crowd in the pavilion and I had not spoken to my platoon about socials or anything of the sort. Then I remembered that earlier, the vice president, Dasola had introduced me to Toy, a platoon mate ( that turned out to be my nemesis, but that’s a story for another day) that could rap and dance. I had his number so I quickly called him and we met up back stage. He was going to sing and he gave me his beats to give the DJ. As we were waiting our turn, the MC called us up, only for another random fellow to collect the microphone and before I could blink, this guy started talking about numbers and then the audience boo-ed him out of the stage. I felt so embarrassed.
The next day, I had to answer questions about what happened the previous night. I just explained myself and they started pitying me. At the end of everything, some people blamed that first performance for jinxing everything else. That night gave platoon 6 a bad reputation for the rest of our stay in camp.
To be continued…