NYSC DIARY: [Life of Shovel] NYSC SZN: Camp – Part 1

It’s NYSC szn!!

Scrolling down my Twitter timeline and seeing people celebrate getting their desired states, others crying because they got states they didn’t know were real, and the commonplace requests for survival tips, advice and general information, brings back memories. I was there just under a year ago.

I won’t bother with the political side to NYSC, you know, the never-ending argument about it being a beneficial scheme or it being useless. My only comment on that is, great idea, poor execution.

So NYSC; this time last year, many of my friends were preparing to go to camp. Unfortunately, I had been pushed to stream 2 which meant waiting almost two months before my turn to serve came. Finding out I wasn’t going with the first stream wasn’t funny because I had stopped work the week before in anticipation.

But I wasn’t going to waste my time so I spent the next two months learning stuff, hitting the gym and not getting results, spending time with my friends and eating.

Fastforward two months later and the stream 2 posting was out. Imagine my shock after waiting two whole months when I saw I was posted to Kaduna.

I had never been to any part of Northern Nigeria and so I saw this as an opportunity to see that part of the country. I found out a couple of friends I had made at different points in my life were posted there as well; and conveniently, a number of them had booked the same flight as me. We met up at the airport on the day of said flight and shared our collective depression about our posting, complementing it with sprinkles of faux enthusiasm for what the convoluted fuck we would be meeting in camp.

My first introduction to Kaduna state was sand. Sand, heat and cold. Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense but trust me. From the second our aircraft broke the clouds till we landed, all we could see below was sand, patches of grass, and more sand. Not a single vehicle, or human being, or animal. Tragic.

Few minutes after landing, we got a cab to our camp, Black Gold Camp. I think it was in Chikun or something.

Kaduna. The heat. Christ.

This was me after an hour

Everyone and their mum swears camp is hell and registration is stresssss. Everyone and their mum is right. The first day was hell. A lot of queuing, sweating, dying inside, dying outside, weak legs; oh, have I mentioned sweating and dying? Registration was a draggggg. It was one procedure after another, and every step involved waiting in a long line. Finally, around 9pm, I was done with most parts of my registration and decided to give up. I had one more stage to go but my entire being was tired; hadn’t even taken a proper meal all day.

My first night wasn’t so bad. Having been a boarding house student all through secondary school and well, university too, kind of, sharing a room with strangers wasn’t going to be tough. Thankfully, my roommates were proper guys so the atmosphere was cool. Oh, I’m guessing someone may be reading this for information so I’ll try to include a few tips and general info about the NYSC camp in Kaduna.

Living conditions were decent. We were provided mattresses thinner than a slice of plantain but they were manageable. The rooms were okay. You would think packing 12 guys into a tiny room would mean heattt. The reverse is the case however because the weather in Kaduna is something else. More on that later. Bathrooms were cool. I didn’t have to bath outside once throughtout my stay. The toilets were….usable. Ideally okay but there’s always going to be animals that mess the place up. I would advise you take enough Flagyl (ordinary drug abuse 👀) .

Somehow, I never had camp food. The ‘Mami market’ was up to standard and provided me proper meals. There’s this particular spot that has fire jollof, for real. I had the same thing for breakfast 80% of the time with my camp squad; bread and akara. Generally, the market is proper. Only sad memory is that I discovered amala late. Oh, no booze; unless you find a plug. Our State Coordinator was highly religious so many things you would hear are part of the ‘full camp experience’ (booze being just one of) weren’t available, neither were avenues to perpetrate them; but then there’s always a way to cut corners 🌚)

It’s impossible to talk about Kaduna without addressing the weather. Please, take lip balm and oil based moisturizers with you. Please. In the morning, it’s soooo coldddd. To give you some insight regarding just how cold I’m talking about, I came out every morning wearing first a vest, then a white tshirt, then a sweater (which is quite thick), then my khaki shirt. Yet, my entire being still shivered. Had just white shorts on and my socks and shoes bottom though. The cold never leaves. Even at 1pm when the sun is soooo hot, you’re sweating, but not sweating, cos while it’s really hot, it’s still cold. I really can’t explain but if you get to experience it, you would understand. It’s basically cold all day, and night to be honest. Really cold, but like, still hot. My lips suffered 😭 Oh, I always took a bath with boiling hot water, but then, I generally like my bath water boiling hot, when I use hot water so I can’t exactly say if this was because of the cold weather or my scary ways.

I remember my first night. I was taking with a friend and I think I said ‘So this is the Kaduna they say is cold. Where is the cold?’ before proceeding to ‘off my shirt’. Just under an hour later, your boy was wearing a sweater and under his blanket while praying to the god of heat to please show up.

I should mention that it’s really dusty so face masks are your friend. We used to dress like we were going for some covert op 😂 After some time, you get used to it and can survive without the masks though. Never had any chest issues, funny enough.

Have I mentioned the dust? There was this morning they made us sit on the parade ground while they searched cos someone lost their phone or something. I will never forget that day, not because of the dust, but because it was DefCon One in my rectum. I was holding mad faeces and mandem were wasting my time. Eventually couldn’t take it anymore and had to beg a soldier.

One of these guys is your MCM

If there’s anything that will make you hate camp, it’s the lectures. Ughhhhhhh. Total dragggg. The lectures were still okay since we were seated (if you got a seat) but the ones where we had to stand on the parade ground for hours and listen to some address? Criennn. And they always lasted hoursss. Your boy has god-level sleeping skills so when I wasn’t womanising, I was sleeping. The naps are more fire when your whole squad takes one at the same time. Social nights on the other hand can go two ways. They’re either lit or dead; no inbetween. Make for cool womanizing time though.

When you’re less busy, you’ll spend your time chilling somewhere in the market. I should mention that there’s going to be a lot of manizing™ and womanizing depending on your preference. Feelings will be caught, flings will occur, if you’re scum, there would be a plethora of candidates to practice your scum ways on; and if you’re the type, youll probably fall in love. There’s always that one guy/babe, smh. Be safe though.

Generally, camp is actually a lot of fun. You meet people, meet some characters (shout out to Nekede individuals), play a bit, laugh a lot; fun. You’re going to hate the first few days but half way through your second week, you’ll be enjoying life. I think advising you to hold funds goes without saying.

The soldiers are cool guys. They won’t stress you. The drills aren’t so bad. You won’t die.

I redeployed sooo I didn’t get to spend time in the state proper. Got back home and I found myself appreciating Lagos heat.

I’m going to be discussing redeployment details and PPA information in my next post. Have fun, if you were posted in Kaduna. Have a safe trip and good luck!


Source: Life of Shovel

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