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Friday, 26 February 2016


Back in 2015 when I was serving my country in Anambra State through National Youth Service, I had some of the most memorable experiences in my life. I won't bore you with all, just a quick flash here and there. In the end, I hope you take something from it. I heard a lot of things about the land but you know, everyone has their own version; just like the blind men that touched an elephant gave different descriptions. They said Igbo girls are beautiful and love money a lot. Well, the few I met, though pretty, weren’t money-crazy types. They were just ordinary people, like those in Akwa Ibom. Anyway, don’t worry, it’s not about the ladies today.

Adaptation was necessary due to cultural differences so I had to re-tune my preferences in some ways. Most of the meals they could offer were gbanga soup and egusi soup—very few varieties. I love food so I didn’t joke with my feeding (as much as allowee could allow) and so, I often times cooked Akwa Ibom native meals when I could hustle in the leaves (I’m not a super cook. There was another corps dude from AKS who cooked better than me though). As expected, fellow corps members fell in love with our leaves and native delicacies, some even learnt how to cook the meals themselves. Our lodge was a fun place to be; after work, we chatted for hours, complained about our little allowance, criticized government, compared tribes and argued football. Yes, I almost forgot, we flirted with the ladies and when evening meal was ready, we stayed in the common room to devour. 

One of the challenges there was power supply (well, it’s a national case but was horrible in that community). Two days of light in a month was like Christmas for us. In the evenings, some of us would take a walk along the community red soil, feel the evening breeze and relax in a viewing center bar where we could charge our gadgets, watch football and drink beer. It became a ritual almost every evening as we drained our batteries to internet and calls on daily basis. The community was peaceful and accommodating so we barely had problems with them, we could even return to the lodge late in the night. There was this thing peculiar to their place; they were crazy about their language, barely minding if you were a stranger, plus, they had burials on daily basis, firing gunshots into the air as respect or whatever.

Still on the gist, I was assigned to a government secondary school to teach some technical subjects (grrrh! I hate teaching!). Since I had no choice, I had to put my mind to it. The school authority expected us to cooperate with them, sometimes, expecting us to do better than their paid staff. “Sign the time-book everyday”, “be in school before 7:40am,” “cover your scheme of work and give assignments,” “don’t wear jeans trousers to classrooms, dress cooperate,” (like hell I didn’t wear!). “Don’t invite female students to your quarters,” (Seriously? Did we look so female starved?)

Well, well, most of us tried our bests to meet expectations, including myself while some colleagues didn’t give a shit if the principal wailed on a cliff. They did their thing their own way, travelling indiscriminately and went AWOL. Sometimes, such things brought conflicts between the school management and corps members, and even among corps members. Here comes the ridiculous part; the lukewarm corps members expected the hardworking ones to be on the same page with them, wiping their arses and covering up their shit. If you help someone out once and do so another time, and then another time, it might not hold water anymore and so it could be pointless and tiring. “Bro, why did you tell the principal I travelled? You no de try for person o,” a colleague would accuse another of reporting, not knowing if he was actually reported or the principal made the findings through another means. Some things like this made the bad guys appear good and the good guys bad. In the line of doing your work diligently, you could be seen as annoying or too showy.
At some point, the team was divided, some claiming others were snitches, some feeling offended as being suspects while some just focused on their job. Other times, stitches would be made and there would be patched unity again. I always advocated for togetherness and peaceful coexistence though it had earned me some unpleasant names. It was still an educating experience. 

In the end, while I dumped some unhealthy colleagues, I still made good friends from different parts of the country, friends I wouldn’t forget, friends that we still communicate and share times. I learnt that in life, some people have expiry dates as you progress while some would last forever. I also learnt that meeting people from different tribes is not really about the tribes, but about good interpersonal relationship. I really miss my good friends.

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