God has a purpose for everyone who belongs to him, a purpose for everyday of our lives, be it long or short days.
Each day we are given is for giving, serving and for living fully.
It is God who gives us strength. This is just as true in old age as it is in our youth. So many christian try to serve the lord with their strength and eventually fall. God understands us and knows what we are capable of and will always give us the ability, strength and staying power to accomplish what He wants us to do. When we accept our limitations and totally rely on Him, He can use us in ways that we probably haven’t thought about. At some point in our lives, God makes us realize that age isn’t a problem to him. God’s miracle working power overcomes our human frailties.
Who told you that you are old? That you can’t attain nothing again? Who said you can’t fulfill your purpose again? I was privileged to visit a prison yard some days back, I saw up to 1000 inmates, both young and old, singing and dancing to God, they have choristers, interpreters, keyboardist and drummers all rejoicing. They still have the belief that our God can still make a way for them….Hmm.
Brethren even in your old state something good can still come out of you…hold on to God and you will be forever young…I love you all…
Since I have survived my first week in Zuru successfully I think it’s high time I told you about my experience. A mixture of sweet, ugly and manageable, it was. I left Ibadan to Government Science College, Zuru with a lifted spirit and open mind as I embarked on my 13 hour journey through mud houses, rivers, bridges, bushes and bad roads.
I had made up my mind to accept whatever came my way that couldn’t be changed. I was worried since the scheme did not pay us for the month of August so I tried to raise as much money as I could to pay my bills and have a descent room to lay my head. All other Corps members had resumed in anticipation of our first NYSC monthly clearance; my new roommate had already started putting the room in a good shape just how I like it. Nets were fixed by the iron windows and door as I was not ready to be feasted on by giant mosquitoes.
Friendship is an important ingredient that keeps me going these days, being with people who share in your joys, fears, pains, jokes, business and yes food; four of us ate from the same plate of food like it is done in my village. Ofure my roommate made me eat Eba as breakfast for the first time in my life and I was super excited about it and had to take a picture of it because I was getting the new experience I craved for. Each of us had a role to play in making the rest of us forget how ugly being here was, Ahmad is Hausa so he automatically became our ‘Google Translator’; communicating with those who only understood Hausa became less of a problem with him around.
Over here I really don’t need further exercise or a gym because our method of fetching water is already helping me burn calories and build muscles that I didn’t ask for. The way the young children pump the water with so much ease and seemed fun to them but it is a different story when I have to pump with all my might before a drop of water comes out. For the record, the water is crystal clear.
There are lots of animals over here; having dogs, goats, ducks, turkey, chicken, cows around makes me feel like I live in a farm house.
Thursdays are for Community Development Service (CDS) and corpers in the town flood the ATM in an attempt to withdraw whatever money they need for the week because the town has just two banks.
Since Zuru town has not had electricity supply for the past three months, staying in the dark without power supply has become a normal way of life.
I learnt to crawl, walk and talk
I recognized my mother and father then learnt to call them mum and dad
I was told my name and learnt to spell it.
Oh how I learnt the hard way that ladies are to be seen and not heard.
They told me to compose myself and behave lady like.
They failed to let me express myself or let out the questions that roamed my mind which are still unanswered till date.
I learnt to keep shut when I won’t make sense but sometimes how would I know if I make sense without speaking?
I learnt to unlearn and relearn, so should you!
I learnt that the Kitchen is my workshop as a woman and the first tool I was taught to use was the knife. Yes, I had a lot of cuts and hurts but couldn’t cry out loud nor share my pain because all I would hear were comments on how careless I was.
I learnt I was to go to school, read my books and submit assignments as and when due. Such a diligent student I was. How I made mama proud, I did.
I learnt that I was going to get married and have kids, I learnt that I was going to fall in love; they failed to teach me how to love and be loved back. They told me not to fall in love because I didn’t need it yet but when I now needed it, I never found a genuine one. I ask myself if I really want to get married when I see what it entails. Let’s all remain single and be friends with whoever we want to; I’ll have to learn how!
I learnt that I’ll be criticized and shut out for reasons beyond my power. I am prepared to fight for what is right though I don’t know my rights.
I learnt it was better to ask questions than to assume.
So I ask you, how? How do you live in this confused world where culture, traditions, hypocrisy, perversion and insecurity on several grounds have blinded the eyes of many?
We are all products of what we’ve been through so I rest my case!
When I never knew fear,
When my eyes were far from tears,
For all around me was love and care,
Shown to me by family and friends.
When 5 naira could buy me much food,
When 1 naira could do a beggar much good,
For I was raised in a hood,
Where everyone was treated as they should.
When lovers would share love with a bottle of coke,
Smile and laugh even at the “dryest” jokes,
For when Instagram wasn’t yet in vogue,
Our Wives stayed home, but now they’ve all gone rogue!
When love letters did the talking,
For sweet words were the ladies cravings,
Now there’s no love without money,
And if you don’t have a ride, she can’t call you “Honey”
Unfortunately “those good old days” are now fairy tales.
Every passing night seemed short and I felt deprived of enough rest as the soldier blew the beagle loudly and every Corper in all corners of the camp began to bleed out of their hostels. After the praise, worship and prayer session everyday, a representative of each platoon came forth to read the day’s meditation just before the chronicle of events was read out to us. I was always too cold so for me, dozing while standing was inevitable. Don’t ask me how I did it because I have no idea of how I suddenly became a pro at dozing off on the parade ground.
The sound of the beagle at 6am and 6pm interrupted any activity going on at that moment as we were all expected to stand still while they mounted and dismounted the Nigeria flag. It was a popular joke I got tired of hearing, “lazy Nigerian youths wake up at 3am to get set for the days activities but na Nigeria go first sleep by 6pm and go come wake late by 6am, abeg na who lazy pass?” Snapping this picture was a great risk because if I was caught not standing still my phone would have been seized but I made sure I got you pictures because I care about you. Anyway I didn’t have a say and couldn’t do as I pleased because according to them,”the camp is highly regimented.
The parade drill began in earnest and regardless of how tired I was, I did everything possible to remain on parade as I had heard from Uncles, Aunties and lesson teachers of NYSC that people on parade are usually more favored than other corps members They made me understand that as a guard on parade we would be the first set of people to get our PPA or relocation letters on the last day of camp, we would be posted to nice places in the state’s capital as our PPA, those who applied for relocation would be granted and we’ll get some monetary favors from the governor. All I craved for was a good PPA in the state capital as that alone would make or mar my 1 year experience in Kebbi State; so I was motivated to be on parade all through the camp.
A day came when we had comedy night during socials and every platoon had a representative who was meant to keep us entertained. A certain prophetic guy came out and made us realize that only rain could give us some time to rest so we needed to ask God for rain. He sang the popular worship song, “open the flood gates in abundance and cause your rain to fall on me…”. The night was filled with laughter; the song was still on people’s lips even after that day and that was how we began to have more and more rainy days. The downside of the extreme Dakingari weather was that the rain fell heavily with loud thunder which almost took off the roofs then the blazing sun came out immediately after the rain to make mockery of our skins on the parade ground. We were also left with no choice than to parade on the muddy ground and get our clothes messed up. I was always prepared to parade under the sun or in the rain even when I sprained my ankle a few days to the Interplatoon parade competition, I kept marching with my swollen leg and acted like I was alright so that I don’t get kicked out of the selected 48 guards needed for the competition. It was my last hope of getting a good PPA and with the help of my initial parade commander, Corper D aka, crazy Dafidi, I learnt all the parade commands speedily; I ll teach you the complete demonstration though it sounds like a foreign language:
Parade! Pradeshun! Standaheight! Pradeshun! Parade we advance right turn, parade we advance by the right, slooow march! Parade we advance from slow march to quick march, division into columns, by the right, quick march! Three guards by the left, left wheel! Three guards by the left, left form! Three guards, open order aah! Three guards eyes right! Three guards close orderaah! Three guards left wheel 2x Three guards into line, left form! Parade we advance on review order, by the center, quick march! Three guards hault.
We did perfectly well in my eyes yet our soldiers were not impressed and kept saying we were doing our village thing. They made jest of us saying,” some of you are over 40 years old but instead of you to allow your children to serve, you refused and decided to serve by force; that’s why you are giving us bad demo for your village chief.”
The daily lectures made me weak and most of what was said were a repetition of what had been said before. I always made sure I sat beside my friends because they were always fun but what happens when the entire squad falls asleep? Rumours had it that our monthly allowance had been increased so the entire pavilion went haywire; this was the talk of the town till camp was over. Anyway we were still payed our #19 800 at the end of that month and the hopeful ones can’t wait for the #49 800 to become a reality in September. Don’t worry I’ll sure keep you posted but if it is real, many of my colleagues were already showing interest in increasing the duration of their service to 2 years or more.
Social activities such as Mr Marcho, Miss NYSC, Big bold and beautiful/handsome, Miss Lepa, Mr Fine Face, Cultural dance, drama, cooking and sports competition as well as the camp carnival were all fun activities I never looked forward to because all I wanted by that time of the day was to be asleep on my bed.
3 weeks came to an end and it was time to leave camp but it was a rainy day; the queue which lead to where I was ought to return my mattress was an extremely long one but I had to be cleared before I could get my PPA letter so now you can say that my orientation course was indeed one which fulfilled the promise of under the sun or in the rain.
The passing out parade started immediately the representative of the governor came around. I got my letter afterwards and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was Government Science College, Zuru Local Government Area; so all my efforts towards getting Birnin Kebbi the state capital had failed and the only possible service I would render in a boy’s only science college was either to teach English or work in the Administrative Department of the school. I was sad but still optimistic that it won’t be so bad after all. The local government bus took all Zuru Corpers on a 2 hour drive to Zuru Local Government secretariat after I had offered my first dose of flowing tears in the presence of Corper Ike who I think has a degree in consolation even when he wasn’t sure of his own fate yet. He took several videos and pictures of me just to get me back to my excited self and it worked out just well but on getting to Zuru, it was a different story. After all the hype that Zuru is a lovely town, I was extremely disappointed by what greeted me there. The so called town was not different form the regular bushes and farm lands I had passed through in other towns except for the presence of a bank, market and tared roads with ugly looking schools, no hang out spots and quite a number of churches.
I was still keeping my calm until I got to GSC, Zuru with the other Corpers then the older Corpers took us to the Corper’s lodge and it dawned on me that this is reality. I wasn’t just going to be teaching in a boy’s only science school in a Hausa town but I’ll also be living in some place that looks like a dungeon. I dropped my box outside the house and began to cry. I wasn’t ready to step into the room because I had had a full meal of disappointment already. I just wanted the whole nightmare to end and let someone just say it had been all a joke. Everyone persuaded me to no avail, I washed my face, tried to put myself together and get used to my new apartment but I sat on the floor of the room where I began another season of tears. All I wanted was to sleep and wake up to another life else I had no choice than to accept what NYSC had dished out to me. The following day I felt better and determined to make the best use of my situation as life was about to teach me something different from the life I was used to. I went on with all my documentation and was accepted by the school as an English teacher. I soon back to where I call home and was set for my 14 hours return trip to Ibadan on the terrible Nigeria road and wooden bridge in the presence of a lovely landscape. I wish the Federal Government of Nigeria could just do me the favor of moving Kebbi State forward on the map, just for my sake abeg.
I’ll bring you further details on how life in Zuru, Kebbi State treats me from time to time, but till then just know that there is a reason you are where you are; you just have to discover it patiently.
The hostel didn’t look so bad after all but having stepped into my room which almost looked like a hall I stood to count how many bunks were there just to have an idea of how many people I’ll be stuck with for the three weeks ahead. 22 bunks meant 44 people ought to occupy that room; I looked around and decided what corner I was going to choose as I was trying to stay beside the window for ventilation. I picked a down bunk spot in the middle of the room close to an electric socket; I had heard stories that there are no charging spots in the hostel but this was going to prove them wrong. I was so sleepy and couldn’t think too much so I moved my stuff in, laid my bed, hung my mosquito net and went to shower in order to get in the mood for a long nap.
The heat I felt that day was an unusual one, the water that came out of the tap was extremely hot and seemed to cause more discomfort but I had no choice than to make do with it. I tried lying down to get some sleep as I didn’t sleep properly during the previous night’s journey but oh boy, I was steaming within me. At this point other ladies had started flooding the hostel; since sleep had departed from me I went ahead to make friends with my new roommates and at least just to be nice to them as the landlady of the room but this did not last for long after I found out that I had played my penalty into throwing. The angry sun was already staring at me from the two windows beside my bed. I was soaked by the sun and it dawned on me that there was no breeze in Dakingari only sun and more sun; however it was too late to get a better bed space as all down bunk beds had already been occupied so don’t ask me why I now look so black, I had my unfair share of Dakingari’s daily sun and guess what? The sockets in the room had all been disconnected and charging my phone at mami market was inevitable but the bitter news remains that your phone either gets spoilt or the charger never remains the same at the end of the three weeks trust me; let’s leave that story for another day.
I would not forget to gist you about my first night in camp; I thought I was not going to make it to the next morning. I had another shower wore a very light dress and tucked myself under my net; the weather was probably 70˚C that night. I did not fail to come along with my hand fan but each attempt to fan myself yielded only hot air, I thought I was the only one feeling this way until I heard my other roommates voice out. At this point my face was really hurting me and I guessed it was the chemical used in treating the mosquito net that was making me feel this way but I had to pick a struggle either I used the net or allowed mosquitoes to feast on me. I showered again but my condition got worse, I began to feel rashes on my face while it was itching and hurting at the same time. This was the point when I removed the net and decided to air it for the next three days before using it again, I didn’t want any disaster to befall my face and spoil my fine girl game in camp but for that night I used mosquito repellent cream which didn’t stop the giants of Nigeria from humming close to my ears.
I waited patiently for the night to come to an end but it seemed so long and each time I checked my phone it was still 2am so I decided to have a proper bath, get dressed like a white fowl and stay on my bed ready to fly out of my room immediately the soldiers call us out. Since it was officially the first morning in camp we heard the sound of what looked like a trumpet but we were told to call it the ‘beagle’.
It had an unmistakable strange sound which I was sure we were all stuck with for the next 3 weeks. We all ran to the front of the admin block as the camp director addressed us and told us how to go about our registration and I won’t lie to you, the struggle was real. I moved from being the first female on camp to being the 183rd person to get registered.
My state code identified me as a member of Platoon 3 so I went to get my NYSC kit from my platoon officer. The first thing I noticed was my over-sized jungle boots and tennis shoe. “Why on earth did we have to specify our clothes and shoe size on the portal when the NYSC coordinators don’t even care if our kit looks smart on us?” Those were the thoughts in my head. I was depressed and had to get a means of exchanging my size 10 jungle boots and size 7 tennis shoe to a size 5. Yes my leg is that small you don’t have to check it. Changing my tennis shoe was quite an easy task but no one around me seemed to need a size 10 shoe so like every other person in the hall, I began to announce, “Who has size 5 jungle boots and needs size 10?” I was depressed when no one came to my aid but my new friend Corper D gingered me to ask my platoon officer to help me as I could not possibly manage a size 10 shoe. He helped me change the shoe to a size 6 which was still bigger than my feet after about two hours of sitting and pleading with him but who am I to reject the boots at least it’s manageable.
The major advice I got before getting into camp was, “Stacy make sure you join Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) in camp and be very efficient there, in fact since you studied Mass Communication it would be very easy for you. OBS members are always posted to the capital city and are given a nice Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), if OBS is filled up make sure you join red cross or band, participate actively in your platoon and make friends with the soldiers and platoon officers”. As it is popularly said, talk is cheap. To all my unpaid special advisers and lesson teachers I really thank you for your words of encouragement; your reward is in heaven. I rushed to the OBS office with Corper W to be part of the OBS crew; we were thoroughly screened on two occasions but each time I went there to find out if there was anything I could do to help, I always met new faces like the OBS room was a mini-camp and we were usually carrying/packing chairs, washing canopy, mounting speakers and having meetings.
As a professional and certified broadcaster that I am I Japaa from OBS; my dear I didn’t come all the way to Kebbi State to just be carrying chairs around and be characterized among the crowd who joined OBS in order to get a good placement anyway that was why I registered but shhhhh don’t let them hear.
Since I was no longer the first female on camp as my state code had sold me out and I had escaped from being an OBS member, I had to look for another way to stay active on camp and enhance my chances of being posted to Birni Kebbi the state capital. Find out my next line of action in next week Friday’s edition of Diary of a Kebbi Corper.
I needed a change of environment, something new; but didn’t envisage that the organisers of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) were secretly listening to me. I registered for the programme through their portal; I was super excited and counted myself among the lucky Nigerians who would be called for service just two months after graduation.At this point the only question that went viral on social media was, “what states did you pick?” While my mates were casting and binding any power that was trying to get them deployed to Northern Nigeria I was just so calm and confident that I will not be posted too far away from home.
I heard that my call up letter was ready; I suddenly began to pray and reject what I wasn’t sure of. Immediately I opened the portal, the letters that formed ‘KEBBI STATE’ stared at me like an evil spirit; I didn’t know whether to be sad or happy about this because I’ve never heard anything about the state throughout my life. I wondered if the state actually existed or has even been merged with another state. My momentary curiosity led me to locateKebbi State on the Nigeria Map; I just wanted to know where exactly I was going and have an idea of how many states I’ll pass through before I get to my destination. My doubts were suddenly replace with an optimistic mind, I hungered to see what Kebbi State and northern Nigeria had to offer; this was the change of environment I had wished for after all. Still excited, I spilled the news to my mum and dad, I had already made up my mind and had even packed my bags for the journey not minding by what means I would get to my destination nor how long it was going to take. The Orientation course was set to start on Tuesday 24, July 2018 at NYSC Darkingari Camp, Kebbi State but since I had heard stories that resuming early would get me a nice bed space and being among the first 100 corps members in camp would automatically make them post me to the state capital for my Place of Primary Assignment. I was naïve and believed this; I won’t tell you if that was bobo yet.
I left my house with my small box and handbag on Sunday 22, July 2018 and headed to the park to board a direct vehicle to Kebbi State. I was glad that majority of the drivers there could speak Yoruba so I could relate with them. I informed the driver that I was a JJC Johnny Just Come and it was my first time embarking on the journey, before I had even finished speaking he was already saying, “AhhhCorper, you sure say camp don open because na tomorrow people dey go camp o? He tried to talk me into waiting till the next day before going on my journey but I refused to agree with him. I begged him to take me straight to the camp as I was ready to pay the extra charges but he declined and made me understand that where I was going was completely out of his route. He assured me that when we get to Kebbi State he’ll hand me over to another driver who would drop me at the camp.
I sat for almost four hours waiting for the vehicle to get filled up but it took forever. Our journey began at exactly 3:09pm, we drove out of Ibadan then passed through, Oyo town, Ogbomosho, Kwara State, Niger State; I looked out for Kainji Reservation Park and River Niger, they were all beautiful. I was getting the adventure I longed for but began to notice that Niger State didn’t seem to come to an end. Every sign post I saw continued to read Niger state till it became dark then our fast and furious driver stopped at a joint to eat. We all highlighted from the vehicle and got ourselves something to eat as we still had a long way to go. Oh I forgot to tell you that we were just two prospective Corps members in the vehicle while the other passengers were old Hausa men who I couldn’t relate with due to Language barrier. The other corps member and I ate white rice and stew, the rice was extremely soft and surrounded by water. I just knew in my mind that I didn’t have a choice so I swallowed my food and accompanied each spoon of rice with a sip of water so that I won’t throw up.
The journey continued quietly as midnight met us close to Kebbi State. I was glad the trip had almost come to an end as many sign posts stated Kebbi State but three hours had past and we were still on the road. I didn’t know how but I dosed off at some point and the next thing I heard from my sleep was, “Corper, wake up, you no sabi where you dey go and you dey sleep. Come down we done reach ‘Koko’na here you go take car wey go carry you go camp”. I sharply carried my luggage out of the vehicle; the driver helped me negotiate with the cab man who was going to take me to Dakingari camp. After all was said the driver looked at me and said in Yourba, “give him only 500, don’t let him cheat you. Don’t chatter the vehicle so that you won’t be alone in the car with the driver in a strange land where you can’t speak their language. Make sure you are not in a hurry to leave as no one is ever in a hurry in Hausaland”. He said all this to me and gave me his phone number to call him when I get to my destination or in case of emergency then he took off.
This cab did not get filled up until about 6.08am; while I waited in the front sit of the car I really needed to pee so I assumed that every Nigerian understood ‘Pigin’; I opened my mouth and asked a young man “Abeg where I fit piss for here?” The words that proceeded from his mouth was a big shock to me as he said, “Peace e no dey”. I just said OK and held back my laughter and confusion. How would I communicate in this land for the next one year? We soon continued the journey to Dakingari which was about an hour drive from Koko.
We got to an immigration check point and met some custom officers who stopped us to check the vehicle. One of the Soldiers asked where we were heading to and the driver replied in Hausa words that I don’t understand till now. The soldier asked, “Are you a new corps member here? What state are you coming from? I answered him and he requested for my phone number saying he wasn’t sure the camp was opened but he’ll check on me in the next few minutes to know if I was in safe hands. He was really nice and gave me the impression that military men are not just harsh and brutal but they are full of compassion.
I entered the Dakingaricamp gate filled with anxiety and a lot of expectations after my journey which almost lasted for 14 hours. Yes the camp was opened and other guys were seated in front of the admin block waiting for who would check them in. As the first female corps member on camp I was given preferential treatment, I was checked in and one official helped me carry my mattress to my room while I rolled my box to Female Hostel 1 room 1.
The sun that greeted me at 8am was one I would forever live to talk about but as the first female on camp, the sun was the least of my worries at that time and I thought I had met the first requirement to earn a spot in BirniKebbi the Capital city for my Place of Primary Assignment.
There is a saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” I thought….. “this is deep!” But again, cultural wrongs are wrongs also So to do right am doing this. Respect has been confused for foolishness And foolishness for respect; It seems cool to be fools to respect people.
The mouth is padlocked with silence When it comes to defending one’s self. Am sorry! Am sorry! Are the only words the mouth utters; Meanwhile the words in us that we ought to say burns deep within us The lips stay sealed and we are trampled on with words Words that break the walls of our self-esteem, Walls that helps us through the rough day And like Jericho’s walls, Someone’s words Someone….
Someone who feels they’re older Breaks those walls Crushes them such that they cannot be raised again.
Someone who does not understand that Age is nothing but numbers. Okay lets say you “Aged” I mean your words should help build confidence But your “Numbers” comes out with words Yes! Words! Words that destabilizes and hurts Your “Numbers” insults my respect And turns me to a fool. It’s true you have the “Numbers” But then there is a saying that a fool at 40 is a fool forever Your “Numbers” never heard of that? No! it didn’t But it knows how to break the walls of others.
It knows how to wound It knows how to trample others esteem Respect does not give you the right to override others humanity And respect they say is reciprocal So it’s true you got the “Numbers” But don’t forget we are all humans And those with lesser “Numbers” need to be respected also This is what your “Numbers” should equal: They should equal Discipline They should equal self control They should equal proper organization They should equal love They should equal concern for others They should equal maturity They should equal support They should equal hope And remember respect is earned and not commanded.
A day in the life of me;
I say to myself, “you have to make it in life, wake up, wear your make up and break free”
Forgetting to ask how many times I’ve woken up to break free but I’m still captured.
A day in the life of me;
I thought their life was filled with so much troubles.
I wept, sought after people who would make my life better, they had to let go of me because I was drawing them to their past. Don’t even feel bad for me.
I was told that Rome wasn’t built in a day yet I roam about daily trying to save myself from crumbling.
Yes I eat crumbs and I am not satisfied; feed me with experience, expertise, food but most of all knowledge.
People always say “fake it till you make it”, I’m going to be as real as I can and I’ll make sure I fix my life a day in the life of me.