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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TRIALS OF AN OTONDO

For those of you who don't know, otondo is the name given to youth corpers on NYSC camp. Its given to you by the soldiers and from your first day on camp, you know that that's your new name. nobody really knows what it means.
Believe me, no matter what you read here, i am not complaining, Im really grateful for what I have and what i have accomplished in this few years I've lived. This is just to make everybody know what otondos go through in the real world. So imma try and chronicle my life as an otondo from start till this point where I am.

I think getting my call-up letter was the hardest part of this experience. I mean you could hear my heart beat a km away. I didnt want to be posted to some off the radar place like Femi, one of my friends, who was posted to a 'city' without electricity, water and even mobile phone connection, and is 3hours away from civilization. So you can imagine the relief I felt when I read my letter and it said FCT (not Abuja).

Next up was getting to camp. I had been told that there were lines as long as whatever you can imagine and that I should get to camp early to prevent spending the night on the line. Luckily I spent just 6 hours filling and refilling forms and hustling for the uniforms.

Oh, let me fill you in on some of the humiliating stuff we had to go through. Nobody told us we were not supposed to bring forks to camp, and then we get to the gate and the policemen tell us to bring out all our forks. For someone like me that doesnt eat without a fork, it was hard. Plus, we had to carry our bags on our heads and frog jump.

4pm, while we were still settling in, the beagle (this trumpet-like thing) goes and we are sent out wet (that's right) by the soldiers to the parade ground for the beginning of drills.

That's just a brief of my first day on camp. Since I cant go on and on about all my days on camp, Ill just give u some of the 'highlights'.
  • waking up at 4am in the freezing cold ( I could have sworn it was zero degrees, but we are in Nigeria)
  • boring lectures from 11-1pm daily
  • bland food and messed up time table (there was a time when we were served beans in the night and beans the next morning)
  • going back to parade ground at 4pm for more drills
  • lights out at 10.30pm
  • fire alarm at 2.30am
  • uniforms that didnt fit and had to be adjusted (every single item, even the shirts)
  • endurance trek (we were walking for more than 5hours)
  • Very boring camp fire night, I mean in Lagos they got M.I and we couldnt even get Timaya or Terry G.
On the flipside, camp offers a chance for you to develop sides of you that you never knew existed, like i cooked for my platoon's cooking competition, drummed for our cultural troupe and participated in a creative writing competition. And more importantly, I made great friends.

But really it was a wonderful experience, and I strongly advise everyone, especially Nigerians in the diaspora to go through it (dont worry they give you guys preference in posting).

So I was posted to a hospital, and by the nature of the course I studied, I was supposed to be posted to the laboratory. But the lab was full with youth corpers, so I was posted to a clinic to be a (i hate to admit it) receptionist till the lab had space to accomodate me.
So for now, I work in a paediatric clinic, quietly helping patients get their folders when they come to the clinic and taking all insults with grace cos I know its but for a while (ild soon be in the lab and be immune from them).
I think thats all I can take for now, but I think Ild keep you guys posted on the journey as it unfolds.
CHEERS!!!
Otondo Kiiteh!!!!

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