Uchechukwu writes from Kebbi state, where she’s currently serving . Aptly, she captures in details the journey to far north in descriptive lines that makes you forget about her pains as you look forward to join her. The NYSC Diary Series is edited and compiled by Ediale Kingsley.
This story is going to be in three parts. One post would not be enough to contain all three weeks of my camp experience.
PART ONE: GETTING THERE
The story began when I heard about my deployment to Kebbi state. My first reaction was “where is Kebbi?”. My sister got deployed to Cross river state. I thought she was lucky. I had never been to the northern part of the country before and the stories I had heard about the geographical zone were not stories about safety and peace.
My mother’s reaction to my deployment was similar to mine. She immediately started calling her relatives, trying to figure out redeployment. My father was just calm as usual and smiling, said: ‘you would go and come back, stop worrying’
My mother contacted her uncle in Abuja and he told her not to worry that Kebbi was peaceful and if I wanted to redeploy, I had to go to camp first. And just like that, my fate was sealed. I started packing my bags to begin my journey to Kebbi. I had been forewarned by Twitter and my bestfriend Ugo about the cold weather condition in the North so I packed a couple of thick clothes and the NYSC whites.
While packing, I broke down because I had planned everything in my mind and Kebbi was not a part of my plan even in my imagination.
Earlier we were told to get medical reports and my doctor had given me a very flawless medical report. My chances of redeployment were already looking dim.
I had to start my journey on Monday and by Sunday night, I was still struggling to finish packing. Fortunately, I finished before midnight and had enough time to sleep before the journey.
By 6am on Monday morning, my father dropped me off at the bus park, paid the fare and waited for the bus to take off before he left. My fellow passengers it turns out were all corpers like me and none of them had ever been to Kebbi before but they had heard that the journey took 14 hours. Okay I thought I could manage the discomfort of sitting in one place for that long. We set off at 7am.
Hours later and some time spent in traffic at Berger, we got to Ibadan, Oyo state. I decided then to tweet my journey observations.
Ibadan was beautiful. It looked exactly how I had pictured it from all the stories I had read and heard about the city, in my imagination. What I did not expect however was the similarity of the vehicle colors in the city: white. It even made the place look magical.
A couple more hours and we got to Ogbomosho, a city in Osun state.
I had only heard of Ogbomosho in random discussions, no details at all, so it was just a vague image in my imagination. But the place looked like it fell out of a folklore. It looked like a place you only saw in movies and imagined from descriptions given in books. It was beautiful!
We passed through Ogbomosho and got to Ilorin in considerable time. There were so many small businesses and police/army checkpoints in Ilorin. The number of checkpoints was overwhelming. It was like there were checkpoints after every mile.
And this was where we stopped to eat and stretch our legs. Then we continued our journey until we met traffic at the Niger bridge. After almost one hour, we entered Niger state. We spent the most time in Niger state. We got to Niger state around 3pm and left and eventually entered Kebbi state around 7pm. Yeah! Niger state is that large!
The view from the highway through Niger state enroute Kebbi was breathtaking. (I made an incorrect statement in the tweet. Niger state is definitely not underdeveloped. Pardon my generalization. Just some parts of it.) It’s sad that I do not have pictures but OMG! It had an artistic kind of beauty. I saw sparse vegetation and ever green trees. I saw a tree that looked like a heart shaped lollypop. And the sun set while we were there. The sunset coupled with the landscape was the most beautiful thing I had(have) ever seen.
By 9pm, we left Niger state and entered Kebbi state. That was when our driver Hamusa decided to park the bus, passengers and all, by the side of the road in a village so he could go and pray.
By 11pm, after I had slept and woken up a couple of times, I started freaking out, scared that somehow we had accidentally entered another country.
But the driver and other passengers laughed and told me to calm down. Around 1am, Hamusa our driver stopped the bus to ask for directions to the camp. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the camp gates and honestly I have never been more relieved in my life. We were checked at the camp gates and given mattresses and allocated rooms. I was so tired and dirty. We all managed to accumulate dust from the trip. I naively tried to have my bath that early morning and almost froze in the cold.
I survived and just slept off till morning. The trip to Kebbi was the second longest trip I have ever embarked on.
To be continued…