I lost my voice by Saturday and still presented a play with that. I also had a play to present the Sunday afterwards. It was at church … well NCCF (National Christain Coppers Fellowship). It was the church on camp that was nondenominational church on camp and so the one I went to. I had gone to some fellowships the evenings after camp activities was over and I had naturally gotten into the drama group there (it is my forte remember). I got a small part but it was more than enough since I had no voice anyway. That went well and Sunday was great. There is no 5am bugle call, no camp activity, and it is the day when you can wear anything most of the day without getting into trouble. I didn’t pack much to camp so I was limited to jeans and an ok top. I also got a visit from my uncle who is in the army and is based in KD. I haven’t seen him in about 10 yrs because he was always on assignment somewhere. It was nice catching up. That evening too, we practiced volleyball (we would have a tournament n play another platoon). Afterwards, we chilled and ended up going to the club and hanging there, dancing and just releasing stress. Back to bed at 10:30 though because we knew we were back to work at 5am the next day. Monday marked exactly 1 week we had been there and by now, we were used to the place. We weren’t scared of the soldiers anymore. In fact, by now, you already knew a few of them and made friends with them. We played our volleyball game that Monday and we won, moving on to the next game. The next day, our boys played football and won also. Then we had our dance competition that Wednesday. I danced. We couldn’t figure out what dance to do and we were told we couldn’t mix cultures so since we had more Yoruba people and Yoruba songs in the group, we decided to do that. It was great and shout outs to the boys who represented and did a mad Yoruba dance (even though only 1 of the 4 guys was actually YorubaJ). Our platoon got second place overall in the dance competition, which felt good. The week kinda went by in a blur after that.
By now I was well adjusted to the camp and how things worked. I actually didn’t mind the schedule anymore. The hardest part of the morning was getting up out of bed. After that, I was pretty good to go! The bugle sounded at 5am, by 5:30, we start with singing praise songs for like 15 mins and then prayers, one Christian and one Muslim. Then we sing the national anthem and the NYSC anthem (It was short and boring but it had to be sung). It went thus:
Youth Obey the Clarion Call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the Sun or in the rain
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve
After this, we would listen to the camp commandant talk to us about whatever was going on or whatever announcements needed to be relayed. After this, each platoon would have a quick meeting with their camp heads (civilian leader) who would also talk platoon business. After this, the platoon commander (the military leader) would get us lined up and depending on the day, we either would do drills right there on the parade ground, go out and walk/jog about a mile before coming back to parade ground where we would stretch. We also had mornings where we would do environmental sanitation and mellow out. After this was showers and breakfast. We got 1.5hrs for that. Then it was time for lectures, usually from 9am till noon or 1pm. It was supposed to take place in the multipurpose hall but the place was so small that there were more people under the trees or around the place than actually inside the hall. By second week, people started bringing clothes which they would lay under the tree and go to sleep during lecture time. I was only able to get a seat in the hall twice in all the times I was there. It was fun outside anyway but we didn’t really get the information being passed. After lectures, you had till 4pm for lunch, siesta, any washing or else anything you had to do. At 4, we went back to the parade ground and started matching again. Evening PT was from 4pm till 5:30 and then you were released for dinner, fellowship or anything else till 8pm when evening social would start. First it was the platoon dances and plays then there were different pageants (Miss Ebony, Miss NYSC, Miss Big, Bold, and Beautiful, Mr Macho). After that, there were things like Camp Idol and Jeans night which was a variety night with different talents showcased among the coppers. After socials, you get to do whatever till 10:30 when the bugle is blown for bedtime. After that, you should not be seen outside. The second week again, about 12 FCT students got into trouble for sniffing coke. At this point, I stopped caring what people wanted to say about FCT students, if anyone was still stupid to group all of us based on the decisions of a few, they could go on ahead with their nonsense! The next day, we got a lecture about drug abuse and I could only smile at the coincidence.
It was frustrating being an FCT student there because as if it was not being enough that the KD students were acting out against us; we also got late information from our officials. Added to that, it was useless being in a lot of the lectures because they were specifically for KD students. Then we didn’t get our real ID numbers until the middle of the second week (I.D. numbers that were needed to process our posting). As if all these wasn’t frustrating enough, the soldiers were treating us even worse than the KD students were and it was worse because even when the KD students stopped acting out, the soldiers only intensified their own behavior. Even though we were all in camp together and should be participating in activities together, the officials tried to exclude us from many of the activities (they said we couldn’t participate in the pageants, but had to back off when they realized that most platoons were choosing FCT students as their reps and that we were doing lots for the platoons and they would lose if they alienated us) it still sucked a lot though because opportunities that the people in Abuja were enjoying, we weren’t privy to. But we made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves there though.
There were moments of frustration in the platoon though because there were always a group of people doing everything while the rest of the people wouldn’t do anything and wouldn’t pay their dues but would be the ones to complain the most when anything happened that they didn’t like. That was rather frustrating but it was taken in stride. By the end of this second week, I had lost my voice, gotten the flu, started and stopped sniffling and sneezing and just developed a cough that would last me till I left camp, even though I was on meds. I had had purging days about 3 times in the 2 weeks but I am someone who likes food so I loved experimenting with the different foods and fruits they had there. Lots of sugarcane, watermelons, coconuts, oranges, bananas, jolof rice, fried rice, white rice, vegetable soup, pounded yam, egusi etc. I loved the food in the mami market – as well as the fact that there were more options there – so soon enough, I stopped eating in the cafeteria and just stuck with mami market. There were lots to drink too, but I didn’t drink anything stronger than a Smirnoff the whole time. Also the music was always bumping at the “club” and it was good to go there and just destress. Overall, week 2 was mellow. Things were about to get harried and crazy in week 3 but we didn’t know that yet, we were just looking forward to the last week and getting out of this crazy place!
To be continued…