The mandatory National Youth Service year for graduates in Nigeria is one that brings with it a myriad of experiences. My NYSC Story is a new feature on GreenBiro that gives you the opportunity to share those experiences. From the good, to the bad, the funny, the interesting… let’s hear those tales about your service year.
♪♪Youths obey the clarion call,
Let us lead our nation right…♪♪
I learnt the NYSC anthem even before I got to camp. By accident actually; not because I was that eager. When we were taught the anthem on the second day of camp, I sang along happily because I already knew it by heart. I was excited to be on camp not because I was so patriotic, but because it was a new experience and I am an experience junkie.
♪…under the sun or in the rain,
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve♪♪
Well, my excitement was to meet with an untimely death. The rain came pouring down that beautiful November day. We scurried like frightened mice to our hostels but were halted by the voices of military men yelling at us to stay put. In the words of the camp commandant, we had just sung the anthem including the line that read “under the sun or in the rain” and so we were to remain in our positions. Resentment began to build up within me, but I fought it. We were released after a few minutes. I raced back to my dorm and brought out my phone. It was soaked! I took out the battery and dried it for a few minutes but it seemed pointless. My keys weren’t working. Resentment gave way to frustration and anger! My blackberry! After 24 hours of drying, the phone returned to almost normal. ‘Almost normal’ because to this day, my end button does not work.
Other than that experience, I’ll say camp was really fun. I did not set out to meet people or make new friends (quite uncharacteristic of me but I had my reasons) yet I met a few people that would change my life forever. The NYSC is a once in a lifetime experience. So go to camp and enjoy every single moment of it. Endure the drills. You’ll have to be up pretty early every morning and do some routine exercises. For those of you who did not attend military schools or participate in march-pasts for children’s day and inter house sports, well, the soldiers will try to make military recruits out of you, so be ready.
Me and my friends in camp
Forgive the soldiers. Some will be deliberately annoying. I don’t know what the beef is but most will get under your skin. It’s in their nature to yell, so be prepared for that. They’ll probably call you names too and tease you mercilessly, especially if you fall into the ajebo category, so brace yourself.
Don’t be too bored by the lectures. The hall or tent might be over-crowded, lots of people will be talking thus making it impossible to hear. Just try to get through it. You can even decide to read a book then.
One important thing – don’t spend all your money. Especially the guys. Don’t go on a “drink-all-you-can” spree or finish your money on the ladies. The end of camp will come and you certainly do not want to be stranded. There’ll be so much to engage in and enjoy.
If you’re selected for martial arts or you volunteer for it, enjoy the experience. Hopefully your entire body will not hurt for days like mine did.
Enjoy the cultural day fiesta. It’s really lovely. You’ll get to see all sorts of costumes and cultural attires. A platoon in my camp went as far as renting a horse. Really creative and quite intriguing. That day we get to celebrate our Nigerian identity. It’s pretty colourful actually.
Laugh at the silly answers some ladies will give at the Miss NYSC pageant; you’ll probably see a few “miss beauty and no brains”. Admire the six or more packs of the Mr. Macho contestants; roll on the floor with laughter when you see the ‘Mr Pretty Face’ contest; enjoy the variety night and dance responsibly. Try not to do anything you would regret later. People will be making videos.
Cheer your platoon in debates and sports and if you’re into any of the activities that people would compete in, by all means, get involved and represent your platoon. If you win, you will not only have made the platoon proud but you would have had a lovely time doing something you enjoy. And yes, that would make you proud too! If you lose, well, it was just a game.
Above all, live in that moment; enjoy it because you will likely never get it back. Make the most of your time spent there because I assure you, you will never get an opportunity to be with such a unique bunch of people drawn from all over in such a setting.
And when the posting letters come out… That is an article for another day.
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