Thanks to Seunfunmi for sharing her experience of the recently concluded NYSC orientation camp (23rd December, 2020). She sent me a voice note for this and it made me chuckle a few times and I had to shake my head a few times too. Gosh.
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Week 1 in camp was my most stressful week. I got to camp on a Sunday after spending more than 16 hours on the road. I was extremely tired. When I got to camp, the first thing we did was that we had the Covid-19 test done which I actually found painful – well, just a very weird sensation! After that, I started my registration then took my things to the hostel to try and find a bed space.
When I was done I realised I didn’t bring a mosquito net so I decided to go to the Mammy market to get one. I was wearing a knee-length shirt dress. On my way there, a couple of men stopped me and they were screaming “You think this is Allen Avenue? You think you’re still in your University?”. I was like “What I am wearing goes all the way to my knees, what I am seeing other people wear isn’t even as long as that” but I obeyed, turned around and went to change into something else. Then I went back to get what I was looking for.
When I returned to the hostel, I settled down and tried sleeping for a while. Then I went to have my night bath and suddenly I heard the sound of the bugle and the next thing soldiers were storming into rooms. I was wondering what was happening – is this an apocalypse or something? Haha! But then I figured the soldiers were sending people to a particular hall and I thought since we had only just arrived they shouldn’t ask us to go as well. Only for the female soldier to come into the room and say “All of you OUT blah blah blah!”. At that time, I wasn’t even dressed properly so I had to rush to get dressed and I went to the Hall.
It was orientation night taking place with lots of activities and I was like “What’s going on here?”. However, I met a couple of people that became my friends.
The next morning, I didn’t know we would have to wake up that early – we were up by 4am to have our baths and get ready because by 5am we had to be out of the hostel and on the Parade ground. We would have morning devotion, then parade then after that we would go to the hall for lectures. I was like “God, I didn’t sign up for this life!” That was pretty much it devotion, parade, lectures and on and on....The entire day was fully occupied, you barely have any time to rest. I couldn’t find an hour stretch to rest.
I was complaining to my friend and he suggested I should go join OBS (Orientation Broadcasting Service). So I went to the OBS studio. I would usually hear different people making announcements over the radio and playing music and all that so when my friend told me about OBS I thought it would be a good avenue so I could escape going to parade and all these rigorous activities. So I joined OBS.
It was at the point at which I joined OBS, met some amazing personalities and made friends that being in camp really became fun for me. After I joined OBS, my Platoon Officer (a soldier) figured I don’t come to the parade ground so when he sees me going to OBS he was always on to me and would tell me I have to go to the parade ground.
Then one day, I did go to the Parade Ground. To think I had gotten so used to not going to the Parade Ground because we had to rehearse for different things in OBS like DCA (Duty Continuity Announcer) and drama. Anyway, I went to the parade ground that day then I started feeling dizzy and almost fainted. So Red Cross came to get me and they took me to the hospital. Long story short, they gave me an exemption letter from all the rigorous activities on health grounds. That also helped me because I took that exemption letter everywhere I went! It meant I didn’t need to do anything else apart from attending the SAED lecture and other important lectures. I still went for the Man O’ War drills because that was fun – going out early in the morning for the drills and singing all these Man O’ War songs. It was gingering and it was FUN!
We had a series of platoon activities that we all partook in. That was fun. My platoon came second overall. We were quite an unserious platoon but once we came together to do something, even at the last minute, we always did our very best! Then we had our OBS party and that was also fun as all my new friends were there.
After camp a lot of people relocated, very few stayed back and generally we won’t end up staying in touch with every single person. That is the saddest thing about camp for me - I really liked the cooperation and the way everyone carried each other along. The way we just bonded at the OBS it was as though we had known each other right from University and not that we had just met there. The sad part of leaving camp for me was leaving all the friends I had made.
© Seunfunmi Lasisi January 2020
@lasisi_seunfunmi on Instagram
Awwww.....hope you get to stay in touch with as many people as possible and all the very best to you all for the next 11 months!
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So much of this sounds familiar - Buy your copy of Memoirs of a 'Lazy Korfa' (eBook or Paperback) and read all about Tunmise's own experience of NYSC 16 years ago!