FINISHING STRONG: Lessons from Nigeria’s 1996 Olympic games.

Dream team (Photo credit:google)

Watching the replay, some years ago, of the Atlanta ’96 Nigeria – Brazil match at the semi-finals of the Olympic games, I listened in awe to tales by my father about the day the match aired live.

“The whole nation was in a state of despair, you were too young to understand’’ he said. “ I didn’t even eat a thing until the match was over and that was because we won’’.
I believed him. Many a times my father and brother skipped meals because their teams were playing and the match was more important at that moment than any meal.
As the game continued, I looked at the score board- 3:1. The Samba boys of Brazil were having the upper hand and Nigeria hadn’t scored a single goal (the ‘1’ was an own goal from Roberto Carlos). The referee blew the whistle for halftime and I watched the players depart into the dressing room- the Eagles with their heads bowed and shoulders slumped.

The second half began and things remained just about the same – hope was lost for Nigeria and vuvuzelas had stopped blowing, the green-white-green no longer flying high; until about fifteen minutes to the end of the game, when the super eagles scored a goal and then another, equalizing the score at 3-3!

Just a few minutes into the ‘extra time’ ; our ‘Papilo’ (Nwankwo Kanu) brilliantly scored the winning goal (referred to as the ‘golden goal’ then). The resounding shouts of ‘gooooooooaaaaaalllllllll’ filled the air.

Papilo, I know say one day you go make us proud (Photo credit:google)

Dad was in a state of euphoria even though it was a replayed match. He kept on grinning from ear to ear. I can’t imagine how ecstatic the moment must have been for the players and fans alike.

The Eagles had had a seemingly impossible victory. And the tides had only turned in their favour in the second half because for them right there, in that stadium in Atlanta, giving up was not an option.

I believe that the conversations, the corrections, the encouragement and prayers that took place in the ‘dressing room’ during that halftime, coupled with the sheer determination and team spirit, contributed largely to their victory.

The winning spree didn’t end there ( as we all know ); the Eagles went on to make Olympic history in the summer of 1996 defeating Argentina in the finals thereby winning the Olympic games ( for men’s football) to the delight of many Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora. Many took to the streets and celebrated all night long.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do”- Eleanor Roosevelt

We, humans, like to divide the year into halves and quarters – I believe it’s to keep tabs on our progress and see how much more we can achieve.

It’s really been a rough year, ‘rough’ being a big understatement for some. There’s been a lot of gbas gbos (incessant mishaps) these past few months marked by uncertainty, division, pain and loss. Many feel as though they haven’t really started living this year- the pandemic being the nucleus of the chaos.

The seemingly unfortunate situation still wrecking havoc evidenced by the persistent rise in the number of infected people in the nation.

The toxicity on social media is another talk, alongside the grieving news about violence, the inflation of prices and the gradual crippling of the economy. Feel overwhelmed sometimes ? You are not alone.

“One thing is that is clearer to me everyday is how much we all have in common, and one of those commonalities is that we all think we are alone”- Liat Segal

Some of our worst feelings come from making plans and not being able to follow through with them because “life happened”. Many people are merely hanging on by a thread, and a lot are struggling to stay afloat.
Well, despite all these, God in His infinite mercy kept us till the second half of 2020 and the timer has started reading. What will you make of it?

You have a choice to either sit in your ‘dressing room’ and push blames for the losses in the first half or you can re-strategize, change formation if need be, stand tall and make your Atlanta ’96 kind of win!

Super Eagles na baba, all the players na super (Photo credit : google)

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Dear reader,

Thank you so much for reading. As I wrote , I was tempted to chant the popular fan song of that match – “When Nigeria win Brazil, Bebeto come dey cry(Bebeto started crying), when Nigeria win brazil”.

You probably already figured out that I am an ardent lover of football. I hope the piece brought back sweet memories for some and sparked the curiosity of others.

Here is a link to rewatch the Atlanta ’96 semifinals if you would like to

(In case you only want to see Papilo’s ‘golden goal’ and the epic jubilation…click here

More importantly, I hope you enjoyed reading and that the point hit home.

I’d love to hear from you.

Love,

Tosin Fifo

THE LION AND THE HYENAS


I once saw a documentary on TV about a Lion going about his business alone. Suddenly, he found himself in the Hyena territory…..

At that point, he wasn’t afraid, I mean, he was the King of the jungle, so he began to roar which scared the hyenas a bit.


But the hyenas increased in number until he was surrounded by a LOT of them. So he began to retreat ,looking for a way of escape.

He couldn’t kill them all- they were too many. They kept on closing in on him, death in their eyes- he felt trapped.

Photo credit: google


Just as he was about to give up, he heard a roar in a distance. Another lion was fast approaching- reinforcement!!


The roar gave him HOPE and he began to fight and kill the hyenas. By the time the other (bigger) lion joined in, he had killed quite a handful…..
Enjoyed the story??

Well, this is a message of hope. The pandemic seems to be an unending scourge, covid-19 related news every where. A lot of people made big plans as the year opened its curtains but with the recent happenings, many are now on a roller coaster of disappointments and it seems the carousel would never stop.

Many lost their jobs, loved ones and a lot are struggling just to stay afloat. Lockdown in Nigeria is being eased gradually. By easing the lockdown, they are easing the restriction of movement… Not necessarily the spread or impact of covid.

On the other hand, new businesses, new ideas, new talents are springing up- there is, afterall, two sides to a coin.


Rather than lament , think of what you can do to catalyse your growth. Also, learn to be your own ‘hype person’. Celebrate your wins and your losses too, because that shows you are at least trying.

But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God

1st Samuel 30:6b


I am learning a new language on Duolingo (thanks to Annie),and taking some intentional steps towards self discovery. Even though the poor power supply frustrates me at times ( I mean this is Nigeria), I refuse to let it weigh me down.
I have also been doing my own community service, giving two preteens free math and English lessons for the past two months.
How have you helped your neighbour in these times? How have you shown kindness? Have you taken some time to reach out to your loved ones ? Just to see if they are doing okay?

Everyone’s hurting in their own way-either a little or a lot, so be KIND

Dare I say that we are not without hope, even though the current situation speaks otherwise. Let’s dig our feet in and fight all the negatives (the hyenas) trying so hard to devour us.
You are ALIVE, you’ve got GOD, HELP is on the way, there is HOPE. Remember you are not alone.
So Roar Lion(ess), Roar!

Photo credit: google

(P.S : Let’s not get tired of practicing good hygiene and staying safe)

Thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear from you.

Love, Tosin Fifo

MY NYSC CAMP MEMOIR (EPISODE2)

I had barely gotten to the parade ground when I stopped dead in my tracks as I realized what was missing. I searched my waist pouch and even emptied its contents. ‘Father Lord!’ I exclaimed as I felt my pulse racing. I did a mental calculation of where I had last seen it as I sprinted towards the hostel.

I heard my mother’s voice in my head as she advised me the day before camp to be careful with my belongings.
I arrived at the hostel, looking for my phone but it was nowhere to be found. I called the number with a friend’s phone but I knew it was pointless because I had to put it on silent mode when I wanted to rest.

Soldiers were blowing their whistles repeatedly and I watched people scurry out of the hostel. I was literarily trembling from head to toe. When I started looking like I might go crazy, my friends amidst bouts of laughter eventually surrendered it.

I had forgotten it on my bed and they had kept it and tried to play a prank on me. I was just grateful to have found it. I went back to the parade ground and bought my fourth bottled water (#100 each) that day and thought about how much corp members spent daily just to stay hydrated alone.

First pic i took after recovering my phone. ..the view of the hills from iseyin camp…what a sight to behold!!!

The ‘social event’ for the night was ‘Welcome party’ for the corp members which I decided to go for. As expected, it involved a lot of singing and dancing and display of talents which I only partly enjoyed even though my friends insisted I shake body.

I wasn’t feeling very well, my G.I tract was still not free of the attack from lunch time. I couldn’t even partake of the suya from Mammy that they were nibbling on (I later bought mine on Tuesday I think).
Again, we had the usual after the welcome party-hustle for water, bathe, fetch for tomorrow. Nothing like the biblical ‘Do not worry about the morrow’ with water at Iseyin camp, lol.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my hostel took 3rd place for environmental sanitation, I was surprised though, I thought the place was unkempt. But then what do you expect with many inhabitants almost breathing into each other’s lungs?

DAY 6 (SUNDAY 15/03/2020)
Sunday had to be my favourite day at camp because it was activity-free until 2pm! Earlier in the week I had planned to wear one of my nice Sunday attires to the NCCF service, come back for a game of scrabble with my bunkmate then rest awhile before our ‘free period’ was over.

But as one of my favourite bible verses reads ‘There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel- that will stand’; looking back now I just laugh at myself because I was able to achieve NONE of my perfectly laid-out plans.
My name was on the roster for morning duty at the clinic alongside my gate duty buddies from the day before. No thanks to that random sampling that put us on duty on a Sunday (rosters can be hard to make though, speaking from experience).

Me giving up on any idea of church or scrabble and resigning to fate..no parade , so I had some time for the eyebrows to be on fleek lol

Because there was no parade, we were sure that the cases that came needed help for real and there was no malingering involved. The Medical team eventually took some pictures close to the end of the shift (we had no patients to see at that time).

Medical team on call- Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists….forget about all the funny picture poses..we are ‘da bomb’
There is usually a selfie before the whole group then decides to ‘arrange themselves ‘ lol

I had some time to rest after lunch, after which came the usual call to exit the hostel by 4pm. I was asked to squat today because I took my time intentionally before stepping out. I decided not to use the power line, I am a doctor going to clinic, which would have saved me from the punishment, because Bunky was with me. The line didn’t apply to her as she isn’t a Doctor and I didn’t want to be a sly.

I particularly enjoyed this day because games and sports kicked-off. I had inquired and was told there was no female football, only volleyball. I wasn’t particularly interested in playing volleyball because I didn’t want to hurt my leg again, or any other part of my body, so I opted for cheering on my wonderful platoon ladies as they tried their very best with the ball.

A few minutes before the game began…A cheerleader’s shot..lol


We didn’t win though, and my throat was sore from all the shouting. Despite this, I still had a wonderful time. My cheerleading partner, Ope, went ahead, after the game, to rehearse with her own platoon folks (their game was the following day) ―I was so proud of her.

My cheerleading partner / part time volley ball player..Can you guess which Ope this is? 1 or 2?
I am not proud but how do you describe a million shades of fiiiiiiiine?.
Photo credit: Ope

Fast forward to the night’s social activities, this time I was accompanied by my friend Nurse Bilyaminu who was also in my platoon (we had since been instructed to sit by platoons). Another night of talent display, both great and not so great, howbeit, I commended them for the courage to come upstage.

I especially enjoyed the dance (more like butt shaking) because it was really fun to watch, and a lot of people got them on video. I teased Ope1 afterwards for not going up to show her talent. Again, nothing new about the latter part of the night except some gisting with my corner people who had become quite familiar.

Can you guess who took this? it wasn’t me
(Dear prospective Corp member,do not forget your rubber shoes, they are very key)

DAY 7 (MONDAY;16/03/2020)
I woke up with a sore throat and my voice completely disappeared―most likely from all the shouting the day before. You’d probably wonder how only me was hit back-to-back in the leg, stomach and throat in six days. The answer is simple―I am not made for the hard life lol.

Aunt AY from clinic offered me hot water to drink. She also gave me tomtom (I think I will remember that kind gesture for a long time). The medical personnel overseeing us at the clinic were pretty cool to be honest. Dr Femi even bailed me out one time from the soldiers.

Rest your voice’, I heard that so many times that day that I heard it even in my subconscious when no one was saying anything to me lol.
I missed morning parade and spent most of the morning in the clinic where I got to interact with more members of the Medical team including Daddy CMD and Mummy CMAC which was cool (not very cool though because I had to rest my voice and I didn’t know sign language so I mostly had to nod and smile all through most conversations).
After a while, some of us decided to go for the SAED (Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development) lecture. We had been asked to put down our names earlier for whichever skill we were interested in―catering, fashion designing, photography etc and most of us (the serious ones) had done this.
As at the time I arrived the parade ground, the seats under the ‘canopy’ were completely filled and I had to sit under the sun―at the back, alongside some of my platoon members who probably arrived late like I did. The lectures were enjoyable for a while―HIV/AIDS and SDG projects sensitization. The moderator was funny and explicit especially when it got to the part of how to use condoms (a lot of people were attentive then, even the sleepyheads woke up).

Some nobles from the Iseyin palace were also invited and we welcomed them as respectful Nigerian Youths that we are. A female corp member chanted praise songs for them which warranted some money spending and picture taking with the palace folks.

Her Yoruba teachers would have been so proud, the words were just flowing sweetly from her mouth so much so that the guys seated close to me jokingly said she should just be posted to the Palace as her PPA lol.
After that, it got less and less interesting as the timing had gone beyond the attention span for most of us; the lecture seemed to be dragging on and on. I received a call from my dad, and afterwards, listened to a song to keep busy.

Wizkid had barely finished his part of Brown skin girl when a soldier tapped me and asked me to give up my earphones. Where had he come from? He wasn’t my platoon commander and he wasn’t there five minutes ago. I started to apologize but changed my mind when I saw the number of earphones he had seized already. He was apparently the ‘Reaper’ (I had just named him that).

I handed him my original ‘follow-come’ earphone whilst pretending to listen to his ‘’lecture’’ on attentiveness at SAED lectures, obedience to rules etc. He also told us ladies to repack our hair in certain ways which I found rather unnecessary.

Earphones seized, I started taking pictures of random things like my water bottle

The cap on my head, my sunglasses and the water in the bottle beside me weren’t exactly helping much because, at that point, I was TIRED of the lecture that seemed not to have an end.

So I decided to go to the clinic (after all that was my workstation), all the while wondering whether I was going to get my earphones back and hoping we got to practical aspects of SAED pretty soon (that would surely be more fun).
After lunch, we had to go for ‘data capturing’ by platoons and my platoon was up for day one. We had to change from our white top to our NYSC crested vest for the picture. Melie and I went together as we were in the same platoon (did I mention that she was also a member of the I can’t kill myself geng?) and we talked about how unnecessary queuing in the sun to take another picture was. We wondered what the registration done on the first day was all about, didn’t we take pictures then too?

Anyways, as obedient Nigerian youths, we queued patiently and eventually had our pictures taken after which we went to watch the matches for the day (volleyball and football). It was fun to just watch as we cannot come and go and kill ourselves.

Sun kissed…morale-not so high


In the evening, some platoons presented drama and dance which I thoroughly enjoyed whilst sipping 5-alive pulpy with Dammy. My friends and I didn’t sit by platoon today. We had found for ourselves a cool spot with a great view of the stage.

‘The geng’

My throat was much better, but I held back from screaming like other Corp members; I tried to ‘rest my voice as much as possible’. I enjoyed the Urhobo dance the most. To think that the dancers that introduced themselves were largely Yoruba and Hausa, the dancing and singing were very well done.

DAY 8 (TUESDAY 17/03/2020)
I had survived one week in camp and I was starting to enjoy it. Family and friends who had gone through the orientation camp said the first week is usually the hardest, it gets much more interesting in the second and last week they said.

So, I went about my activities with a smile on my face. After the devotion at clinic, and the morning parade and breakfast, I went to the clinic with the intention of NOT subjecting myself to another dose of long lectures under the sun, it was going to be my happy-go-lucky-day.
It also ended up being my most uneventful day as I spent most of the morning gisting in the clinic, the afternoon watching sports and taking selfies. I even missed drama rehearsal and I told myself I would go the following day.

Some platoons had their man-o-war drills while ours was slated for the following day. You know that part where people pretend to be James Bond and take pictures inside tyres and whilst climbing ropes, I really was looking forward to it.
The evening was socials as usual followed by our night rituals-queue, bathe, queue again for water for the next morning, gist, press your phones, if you still had the energy to―I didn’t though, I slept off in the middle of a gist with Ope1.

DAY9 ( WEDNESDAY 18/03/2020).
Whenever I remember this day, the verse from Proverbs 19:21 I quoted earlier in this piece readily comes to mind as I laugh at myself and all the plans I made for this day and the remaining days of the week.

I woke up earlier than usual so I could wash my white shirts, shorts and socks which I had soaked in my bucket the previous night. I went for morning devotion at the clinic as usual. I remember Mummy clinic’s words clearly after the devotion ‘This is not a day to miss Parade, kindly go to the Parade ground as there is a very important message to be passed across’.
Several minutes later, there was pandemonium at the parade ground as they had announced that all NYSC orientation camps had been closed with immediate effect and all activities brought to a halt as regards the increasing incidence of the COVID-19 disease in Nigeria.

Are you kidding me?’ I said out loud, not like anyone cared because people had started calling their folks at home and updating their WhatsApp statuses of course.

I tried to listen to the latter part of the announcements that involved packing our bags, queuing by platoons for a certain document which we were to make two copies of, queuing for our ‘bicycle fare’ , submitting our files and basically just having a hell of a day!
We hurriedly had our baths after we were dismissed from the parade ground, dressed up in our full khaki regalia and continued with the struggle. The sun was already out by the time we got photocopies done amidst all the pushing and shoving.

Over two thousand corp members with just a few photocopiers, you can imagine how the place looked. You are probably thinking ‘why won’t they queue?’ Oh well, some of us did but some didn’t and as expected, it was a nightmare.

Despite the situation of things at the time, baby girl couldn’t resist one snap chat selfie, it was afterall the last day of camp.

I eventually reunited with my friends (I cannot overemphasize the need for support systems in trying moments) and the struggle became a bit more bearable because we could lament together and even make jest of some people who tried to play smart.

No more separation by platoons as we had to queue for the ‘bicycle fare’―I wasn’t about to give my money away to NYSC, we all needed transport fare abeg, ‘Alawee’ could be sent to our accounts later.
There was an increasing demand to get the hell out of the hostel, so we took turns going to get our luggage out of the hostel whilst still securing our space on the queue. Afterwards, we queued to get posting letters to our primary place of assignments (judgement day came early).

Buses to various destinations in the state were parked, with the drivers calling out to corp members to board. I heard about a cool PPA that organized a bus to pick up their ‘chosen ones’.

‘Calm in the storm’……able member of the “I can’t kill myself geng”


By late afternoon, we were finally done with all the wakabout and had one last stop―the cloth line. Two of us had washed in the morning and wanted to pack our clothes which we expected would have dried.

Much to our dismay, the clothes and the cloth lines themselves were missing. The day I decided to wash more than 2 pairs at a time was the day it was stolen? Misplaced? Or should I consider it a COVID-19 hazard?
We eventually decided to get moving. We somehow missed Ope 2 and didn’t get to say our goodbyes. Pharm Rasheedah, another semi-member of our geng was however with us and all of us with different shapes and sizes of boxes took a cab to the Iseyin park as there were no more buses in camp and very few corp members were left.
We managed to buy drinks as we were all hypoglycaemic and waited at the park for a bus to Ibadan. After waiting for what seemed like forever, a bus approached but it wasn’t going to take us all at once. One of was going straight to lagos so the geng was down to four weary human beings.

It was getting dark and threatening to rain, I looked at the time, it was 6:25pm. That was when the Lagos survival instinct kicked in, I told my friends that the next bus was a do or die.

Of course, our family members were calling and calling, and a dear friend even offered us her place at Iseyin General Hospital to stay for the night if we were left with no choice.
If you ever have hustled to enter a lecture theatre in your undergraduate days, this can be compared to it (it felt like the struggle to get into LT026 for lectures in 100level). Eventually, we all made it successfully into the bus.

We arrived at Ibadan around 9:30pm and made it Dammy’s Uncle’s place―tired and drenched. Rasheeedah had found her way as she had family close by. We were grateful for journey mercies, Dammy’s sweet Uncle who picked us from ‘Iwo road’ and the blessing of just having one another. As I closed my tired eyes, I thought of how unpredictable life could be and how things could just change in a flash.
As grateful as I am for the experience, albeit half-baked, I am sad I didn’t get to experience the carnival, the beauty pageant, man-o-war (James Bond) drills, the last social night, my platoon’s football match which they trained so hard for, and that Mammy Asun pepper soup Dammy promised us for her birthday on the twenty-second of March.

But things don’t always go as planned do they? Just like I somehow wasn’t a part of the goodbye selfie by the medical team even though I bragged that I would be in front whenever the pictures were to be taken..lol

Everyone doing their own thing..unity in diversity lol

Behold the medical team…awesome people

Before I drop my pen, I’d like to thank the Almighty for making all things possible.I’d also like to specially thank (in no particular order) Annie, Oyinlola, Rume, Tope, Hakeemah, Ope (picture supplier) and everyone who helped or ‘gingered‘ me one way or the other. Long posts such as this are truly challenging and I couldn’t have done it without you guys. You remain in my ventricles.

Adios Amigos!

………………………………………………………………….

Dear reader, thank you for patiently coming on this journey with me. I am grateful that you and I are alive to share this moment together. I described my experience in days because that’s what it was―9days of NYSC orientation camp.

It is dedicated to all corp members―past, present and prospective.
I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future and I am positive I will enjoy the rest of my very atypical NYSC year.
We cannot ignore the present state the world is in, but we can choose to stay safe, practice good hygiene and pray that this too shall pass.
Do share your thoughts; I’d love to hear from you. Till next time…
Love, Tosin Fifo
CORPERS WEE!

MY NYSC CAMP MEMOIR(Episode 1)

As a Nigerian youth, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme is a prerequisite for getting a job and becoming a recognised member of the labour market. It is a like a bridge between the surreal and a shocking reality. One would have to register to be mobilized with whatever batch is up at the time of your graduation, and then be placed in either of the two streams that each batch would usually have (and that’s just a game of chance if you ask me).

My orientation camp, that for Batch A, was slated to run from 10th to 30th of March 2020. I had heard a lot of stories from friends who had been to camp, and I was really looking forward to the parade, the man-o-war drills, Miss NYSC, carnival etc. But as the time drew close, I was more curious than excited.
The past few weeks of my life had been about completing my housemanship clearance, dealing with the herculean task of getting my permanent licence and then getting registered for the NYSC programme.

Preparation for camp began, even though I still doubted that it would hold because of the news of the Corona virus and the index case seen in Nigeria. I mean that wasn’t the time to gather thousands of people when an infectious disease had knocked on our borders and let itself in.

NYSC didn’t share my sentiments however, because our call up letters were displayed on the portal and our destination camps revealed. I had gotten my white shorts and shirts, shoes, socks, toiletries, etc and I started to mentally prepare myself for the camp.

Even though at the time, I was very familiar with the phrase ‘Man proposes God disposes’, and I had a sudden turn of events several times in my life, I hadn’t the slightest clue that something awaited me at the orientation camp that would later define the subsequent weeks of my life.

CORPERS WEE!
DAY 1 (TUESDAY; 10/03/2020)
I can’t categorically say I was a part of the day one of the orientation camp because I wasn’t lol. That was mostly because I, like my colleagues, got my ID (photo card which was needed for registration at camp) from our institution on this same day and had left school late. I made it to Ibadan with my box and big backpack and spent the night with a relative. I really felt for my colleagues who still had to travel very far to their camps. Thankfully, we all made it safely…eventually.

CORPERS WEE!

DAY 2(WEDNESDAY; 11/03/2020)
I set out for Iseyin Camp from Sango Park at Ibadan and being someone who doesn’t particularly like travelling by road (I usually get the motion sickness and I end up with headaches), I couldn’t wait to get to camp. The road leading to camp was so dusty, I had to cover my nose with a face towel. My hair wasn’t spared, so much that someone asked me if my purple braids were really purple or brown lol.

As expected, some of the passengers of the vehicle I boarded were also corp members- all female, some coming from Abuja and one from Ibadan, with whom I quickly bonded.

After about three hours, we arrived at Iseyin Camp, and were welcomed by ‘Mama Suliyat’, ‘Mama Nkechi’ and co who immediately started advertising their laundry services. Some offered to help us with our bags to the hostel (not for free of course).

A couple of soldiers at the gate checked our documents and luggage, and then I started towards the hostel. Ope, my first camp friend, and I eventually found a space in a corner by the window.

Bienvenu

After then, we set out to begin the excruciating process of registration which involved queuing at different places for registration, biometrics, getting this state code (this would determine which of the 10 platoons you’d be in). Also we queued to get our NYSC kits (2 shirts, 2 shorts, 2 pairs of socks, a khaki trouser, jacket and cap, an NYSC-crested vest, jungle boots, tennis shoes), all of which were placed on our hands, making it somewhat necessary to get bags from eager vendors nearby.
We then opened accounts with whichever bank was assigned to our platoon. Ope and I were separated by platoons, I was in 2 and she was in 9.

Somewhere in between going to and fro, looking very dirty and stressed (in my jean and lilac top that had quickly turned brown), I caught up with my colleagues from the University of first choice and nation’s pride, yeah the great UNILAG (argue with your phone screen ..lol).

Ope, Dammy and Melie were in a state like mine―dressed in mufti, looking scruffy and trying to wade through the stressful registration waters. Haruna, who had arrived in camp the previous day, however, was looking fine in his white-on-white (white fowl lol) unlike the rest of us looking like brown… (I won’t complete that).

To cut the long story short, we eventually found our way back to the hostel. It turned out that Ope and I picked the same corner my three friends from school had chosen earlier in the day. I met my bunky, Livia, a sweetheart from Enugu who later became my positivity manager (if there is anything like that lol). Livia is an optimist and I later became fond of her. I also met Engineer Oyinkan with the mosquito net and her fair, fine friend with the long hair. Oyinkan later became part of our “waka about geng”.

Our first day travails were gradually coming to an end. We went to get dinner around 8:30pm (more like breakfast) at the famous Mammy market. At that point, we were beyond exhausted and just managed to push bread and fried egg down our throats because we had to rush back to the tailors’ stand in the market where we had dropped our oversized khaki trousers and shirts for adjustments.

Waiting on ‘breakfast ‘…….Welcome to Mammy

The swearing-in ceremony was to hold the following morning and we had to wear the khaki and the crested vest. So, the tailors’ stand was like a mad house as the tailors frantically tried to meet up with the demands of the corpers swimming around them like bees in a honeycomb.

Need I mention that the money for the amendment was probably more than what it would take to sew a simple top? But thankfully, we had been warned about the exorbitant prices for which goods were sold and services rendered at Mammy so we weren’t surprised. Not like we had a choice and the Mammy sellers too must chop. Abi?

The soldiers started blowing their whistles for us to go to our hostels. I looked at my phone (watches weren’t allowed) it was 9:30pm. With khaki in one hand, buckets and bailer in the other, with half bag of water in-situ, we dragged our tired feet towards the hostel. Ope from school had somehow been named Ope1 and Ope from camp, Ope 2. They were bunk mates and they shoved their names and love in everyone’s face lol. We queued again to get water to take a bath in the bath yard (not bathroom).

Around 11:30 pm, I finally settled in, exhausted from what became my longest day at camp. I said a prayer of thanksgiving and embraced the sweet arms of sleep that had been calling out to me.

DAY 3 (THURSDAY; 12/03/2020)
‘What is this sound I am hearing this early in the morning? I thought to myself as I brought out my phone from the pouch resting firmly around my waist. I checked the time, it was 2:30 am and a lady was dragging her bucket full of water from underneath her bunk and chatting loudly with her bunkmate. ‘You have got to be kidding me, this is worse than boarding school’ I mumbled.

Being a light sleeper, I felt cheated at this time as I looked around and envied my friends as they slept. I tried to sleep for at least an hour, but I couldn’t, as more people woke up, dragging their belongings about. Did I mention that the night was terribly hot as there were limited standing fans in a hostel full of at least 100 girls?

Finally, at 3:40 am I gave up and got down from my top bunk and got ready for another water hustle. The taps behind the hostel weren’t running at that time so my friends and I had to wear proper clothes and go fetch water close to the camp clinic. By the time we got back, we had to hustle for space in the yard as everyone was trying to make it in time for the 5am trumpet to get out of the hostel. I managed to make it (not entirely though because we were practically chased by soldiers to the parade ground).

‘God! How can I feel so tired this early in the morning?’ I mumbled to myself as I tried to locate my platoon folks. I soon found them lined according to heights.

I took my place front, feeling short but on seeing the cutie in front of me, instantly felt great. She was so small and so cute, I wanted to hug her. I didn’t though; it would have been weird hugging a perfect stranger for no reason at all.
We had the morning devotion led by two ladies from a platoon I didn’t bother to ask about. It was nice, although I thought the songs selected for the praises were quite slow or more like dragged.

When the morning exercise began, I swayed my body to the songs the DJ mixed. I let go completely at the point of Bolanle pepper them. What is exercise without music? It was fun! Okay, so that ended, and we had to rehearse for the parade happening at 9am.

Afterwards there were announcements and then we were dismissed. I forgot to mention that we had to stop all we were doing to sing the national anthem at 6am―Nigeria was waking up or something like that. Same thing happened at 6pm, ‘Nigeria is going to bed’ they said.
I also forgot to mention that meal tickets and tennis shoes had finished from the previous day so I automatically couldn’t eat the breakfast served with the rest. It was beans and pap, so I wasn’t too keen. Don’t get me wrong, I love beans, but I wasn’t willing to eat it just yet because of the terrible toilet conditions.

I resolved to taking biscuit with milk and changed to my Khaki for the parade. (After the parade, I got my meal ticket but the white NYSC tennis shoes were still not ready).

Luth ‘geng’ minus one after morning parade…spot Haruna the white fowl

The swearing-in ceremony went on beautifully although we had to wait for the honourable Governor of Oyo state, Governor Seyi Makinde who was unavoidably absent but was ably represented. We still did the At-ease! Attention! I particularly loved the part where the parade commander chanted, ‘three hearty cheers for the Governor’ and ‘replace head dress!’. It was beautiful. But at that point I knew I wasn’t going to march for my platoon. I would probably join Drama, that I could do well at least. I couldn’t kill myself replacing head dress in the sun. Mo ya look away.

Officially declared CORP MEMBERS, we celebrated taking pictures.

‘I can’t kill myself geng’ including Ope1 and ope 2.
‘I Can’t kill myself geng’ extension including BunkyThese ones like to believe their Platoon is the best....smh

My friends and I went to the clinic to register as doctors and we met Drs Biola and Opral. They were so warm; I knew I liked them already. They told us duty rosters would be made in due time and that we would be added to the group.

Lunch came―yam porridge and fried fish, which tasted great much to my surprise. We had about an hour to rest before we were sent out for man-o-war exercises in the evening at 4pm. I went grudgingly and was just looking forward to the day’s end so I could complete my sleep syllabus.
Dinner was even more interesting―Jollof rice and fish. Having to queue for food and someone mark your tickets reminded me so much of boarding school except that we didn’t sit in dining halls here (where was the time?).

One fun fact―Dammy and I washed our plates with pure water nylon and detergent because no one in our corner remembered to buy a sponge (The following day, Livia bought one). That day, I marvelled at the way humans quickly adapt to unfavourable conditions.
Later at night, we went for one NYSC broadcast we couldn’t see or hear anything. Whistle blown; we went to the hostel (after retrieving our phones from vendors at Mammy whom we paid to have them charged).

The usual queue to get water, get a space at the bath yard followed, but that night, after taking our baths, we fetched water to keep for the next morning so we could have at least a few extra minutes to sleep.

DAY 4 (FRIDAY; 13/03/19)
In the normal world, I would say TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) but nothing was normal about this semi-military training. I woke up feeling much more rested and I quickly jumped down from my bunk eager to begin my day only for me to feel a sharp pain in my left ankle. ‘No way!’ I thought as I felt myself limp to where my box was.

I had already started feeling some pain in my legs the day before from all the walking and running, but that morning was a different ball game entirely.

My guardian angels (Ope 1, Ope 2 and Dammy) helped me to the front of the clinic after which they went for the morning parade. Doctor became a patient as I limped into the clinic, obviously in pain.

They were in the middle of a devotion and I joined in. I found it more delightful than the one at the parade ground because someone came to share the word briefly after the singing part and we got to sit down, (yaaay!). Dr Opral attended to me after which I saw the Physiotherapist on call. He recommended Rest and Ice intermittently. I was given an exemption slip from camp activities that day, so I stayed in clinic.

Few minutes later, patient became doctor again as a makeshift consulting table was created for me to assist those on ground, corp members waiting to be seen flooded the place. I laughed at the irony of the situation when one corper saw me limping and asked, ‘Doctor don’t you need rest?’, because health workers never really find time to take care of themselves.

Time flew by quickly and it was time for lunch. I limped to where lunch was being served, it was white rice (no one should miss rice). And I must praise the kitchen staff (corp members and paid workers alike); the food was nice, exceeding my expectations each time.

I limped back to the clinic when it was time for the evening’s man-o-war activities. And this time the physiotherapist on call, PT Angela made me lay down in the resting room whilst she worked her magic on my ankle. It was really soothing- her hands, her words and personality.
I dozed off on the bed and woke up at dinner time but opted for noodles and egg at Mammy instead, because I wasn’t really feeling up to eating swallow. I got to know some of the other members of the medical team that day including Nurse Bili, a new friend from the north (He reminded me so much of my Aisha from house job).
Asides from my limping, my fourth day at the camp was fair. My friends helped me with the night water fetching and bathing. I felt really blessed to have them with me in camp.

DAY 5 (SATURDAY; 14/03/19)
I was on morning gate duty alongside Dr Bisi. Corps members who volunteered for gate duty were to check the luggage and ID cards of vendors at the gate. However, due to the to the recent Corona virus outbreak, their roles also included offering sanitizers to people coming in after we, doctors, had checked their temperatures. We also encouraged them to wash their hands with the soap and water provided at the gate.

It was a bit stressful at first because a lot of people poured in at once and it was hard to keep up, until another doctor, also on duty, came to join us. We had time in between to gist and I got to know my colleagues a little better (I really love meeting people).

Doctor on duty- The fight against COVID 19

The shift was soon over, and we were able to get breakfast (One of us had gone earlier to get food for three with the ‘Doctor on duty’ tag at the kitchen). Dr Bisi and I struggled to eat the large beancakes that were accompanied by pap, we had to give the rest out at the clinic where we ate.

Doctors on duty

Contrary to what people made us believe, and what some other camp clinics practised, corp members in the medical team in Oyo State camp (Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc) had to participate in camp activities if you were not officially on duty. This was the order from ‘Mummy clinic’ as some of us called her.
Later in the afternoon, as I complained on my WhatsApp status about the how bored and tired I was after going back and forth greeting, smiling and checking body temperatures, people kept on sending messages like ‘Go to the clinic and chill now, are you not a doctor?’ I replied ‘lol, Iseyin camp is unique’.

I later went ahead to join my platoon ‘family meeting’ and put my name down with the social secretary for the drama group (we had elected Platoon leader, social secretary etc earlier). We later had rehearsals and it was fun!

Fast forward to lunch time, I ate the eba and egusi―grave mistake because I eventually had dyspepsia (heart burn). I was in discomfort throughout the day and refused to eat anything until the following day. Again, doctor became patient as I watched one of my colleagues scribble down medications which I got from the pharmacy.

Since I wasn’t interested in the dinner because my gastrointestinal tract was still under a siege, I opted to wash my dirty white that evening hoping my clothes won’t be stolen (thankfully they weren’t).
I finished washing just in time for the 4pm exit from the hostel. I smiled to myself as I strolled out of the hostel proud of my punctuality. I wanted to get to the parade ground in time because I wasn’t in the mood to run or be punished.

Need I remind you that I had been extremely careful with my stuff since camp began- going up and down with my waist pouch and even going to bed with it firmly around my waist; padlocking boxes etc? I didn’t think the day I would lose something so dear would come so soon…………………….

RAPID ROLL

Games have always been a thing for me. For one, they were a major criteria for the choice of my first phone (lol).
If you love games like I do ,you’d definitely know this one. I really loved it growing up (still do) to the extent that I’d steal my cousin’s Nokia phone just to play. If the phone then had the powerful trio of Bounce, snake Xenzia and rapid roll, my day was made! I’d probably exhaust your battery before I am caught.
Whilst playing this game a few weeks back, a realisation suddenly hit me- Life can somewhat be compared to a game of rapid roll. You are probably wondering how.
Like most other games, the beginning of this game is sweet and easy, gradual too, just like starting life’s journey after birth. While effortlessly attaining all the developmental milestones, you leave mummy and daddy to handle everything else. Suddenly, the game picks up its pace and like life and adulthood, you’d have to pick up yours to keep up.
Sometimes you take a leap in the game where you either fall on a bench or on a thorn, same with taking risks in life. The game is also designed in such a way that the limited number of lives you have wastes away before your eyes if you refuse to take that leap of faith, usually because of the fear of where it might land you. But if you are really determined to beat the high score (like overcoming a challenge in life), you definitely will.
At other times when you think you are doing so well, the situation gets completely out of hand and everything is a total mess; game over. Now, one major difference between this game and life’s challenges is that you are not governed by a ‘limited number of lives’. You can always start over, so long as you have a beating heart and breath in your lungs.
No matter how disappointing the previous year might have been, or how many unfinished tasks you still have on your hands, as we keep running the race , remember that you can start over with GOD and make your big win. The New year/month/week is overrated by the way; you can stir the course of your life in whatever direction you choose at any time in the Gregorian calendar.
Cheers to your big win.
(P.S: Dr. Fad I beat your high score in Rapid roll on both call phones you handed over to me lol.)

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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