Thursday, 6 December 2012

NYSC: The Unforgettable EXPERIENCE

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
---------Marianne Williamson

How do I start penning down my thoughts? I must admit, I’m so inspired that if I am to pen in totality, the feast going on in my head, I might end up writing a book on my experience in NYSC orientation camp Sokoto.  

 I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that we all have what it takes to face the darkest moments of our lives and come out better people. Camp for me was truly a life changing experience. It’s an experience I would love to go through over and over, and over again. There are some life lessons we may never be able to learn by being in our comfort zones except we are exposed to the harsh realities of life.

I crave your indulgence to join me as I express myself in writing once again, with the hope that I might be able pass across a message to people who are ever hungry and thirsty for not just knowledge, but truth.

It was not until after I arrived at the NYSC orientation camp in Sokoto that I realized I had forgotten my call up letter (the most important document), in a friend’s photocopy machine back in Yola. “How could I have been so stupid to forget such an important document?” I asked myself in silence. I was never going to get cleared by NYSC officials until I provided an original copy of my call up letter along with other vital documents as proof of eligibility for service to my dear nation, Nigeria. Two days was all I had to get my papers ready for clearance, else, I would be asked to go back home and come back next year.  It wasn’t such a good way to start out this adventure.

This was a great challenge for me, and I needed to act fast. Quickly, I called my friend back in Yola, and asked that he help send the document on the next available flight to Abuja en route Sokoto. Kind as he has always been, he rushed out of a meeting to his room to pick up the document, and dashed to Yola airport. My call up letter boarded the plane, and was on its way to Sokoto. Lol.  Just like magic, it was in Sokoto without any delay. I rushed to the airport, picked it up, and rushed back to camp to proceed with my registration. Thankfully, I submitted all my documents, and was cleared. I was done with that phase, and was welcomed into the lion’s den. 

Now, the terror for me began when the soldiers screamed out loud: “White fowl better carry that travelling bag on top your head and double up... Bag of rotten tomatoes and onions.. Abi you dey craze?”  You needed to have seen these military men in action. It was as though they were out to use us as sacrifice.

How was I to carry a travelling bag that weighed close to 50kg on my head and still double up (run) to my hostel? Well, out of fear, the genius in me came alive, and I could feel my bag on my head with both hands serving as support, as I raced down to my hostel without looking back. Then I realized just as he has stated that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure 

I got to my hostel, and to my greatest surprise, the halls, where NYSC had provided for us to live in, were without doors or windows, meaning we were exposed to reptiles, scorpions, and all sorts of danger. It was a terrible place to live in, and for the first time in my life, I was exposed to the real “jungle life.” But the good thing was, I had made up my mind to go through the process come what may. I was set for the experience. I guess this determination alongside the help of God is what kept me going. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to make up your mind and say to yourself: “I have what it takes to overcome any challenge… I am a survivor, and I am more than a conqueror” 

With no idea I was going to be up as early as 3:30am in the morning, I mumbled to myself a quick goodnight at about 2:15am. I hadn’t gone far into my sleep when suddenly I heard wailings and violent roars: “Run outside!!! If you are sleeping you are wrong.” These military men were at work. Being the novice that I was, I immediately ran out with no clothes on, just boxers, thinking that Boko Haram had invaded our territory. I wasn’t alone in this show of ignorance anyway, because when I looked around, I saw one dude with his luggage ready to run for his dear life. Lmao!! It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. The truth is out of ignorance and fear, many of us run aimlessly in life, with no direction or definite purpose.

The alarm was to wake us up, and make us run down to the parade ground fully kitted for the early morning meditation, man-o-war exercises and the mandatory parade. For many of us that were used to waking up late in our houses, it was very challenging to wake up that early every day. This ritual went on and on and gradually, waking up that early became normal. I feel part of what makes you a champion is your ability to adapt under any given circumstance.

Taking my bath and posting letters outside became a normal thing. In camp, you just have to strip yourself of the social mask you wear and be real. Be yourself. Nobody cares about your title or who you are. You just have to adapt and endure whatever situation you find yourself in.  

We were warned to stay away from anything wrapped in black nylon as the content may change your life forever.  “Put on your thinking cap”

Now, the most cherished moments for me were with the people I met in camp. Camp is where you get to meet the craziest and most amazing set of people on the planet. You see people with different characters and personalities. Some you can stand, and some you just can’t imagine how in the world they became humans. They are not perfect, but if you are really honest with yourself, neither are you.

You meet people with past that you can’t even imagine. Now here is the challenge; how do you connect the weaknesses in you to the weaknesses in another? How do you go about joining your past to that of another? How do you accommodate the secrets that will reveal themselves as you undress your souls before one another?

It is easier to wiggle out of the tightest clothes than to remove the layers of history that drape your souls. You have hidden beneath them for so long, and to stand naked is to stand vulnerable. But you must unveil your scars and reveal your pasts. You must show each other where you are hurting, or else it will fester between you like an undetected cancer and eat away at your potential future. In camp, I learnt how to be transparent and have open conversations; not with everyone, but with those who are worth my time and who share similar experiences with me. I realized it is imperative we recognize the brokenness in us, and courageously strip off the tough exterior we use to hide our pain. “Three weeks is such a short time to bond with people” I hear someone say. Well, maybe true, but I have a question for you: how long is LONG?

It is important to help the weak become strong. I would like to address the so-called “real people” who have had secret experiences, molestation, traumas, abuses, and early promiscuities. It is to them that I direct this message, for they will need constant care in order to rebuild what life has torn away from them. The majority of people are scarred and damaged. They struggle to make the ideal work within the limitation of their realities and our silence towards them has left them adrift in a sea of broken hearts. Well, I say it is time to throw them a life line. It is time to break the silence and be real.

Life is very much like a puzzle, and we are the pieces that have fallen to the floor. Some of the pieces have been stepped on; some have been lost for a while, carelessly kicked under the couch. But amid these oddly shaped fragments, there are people that fit one another. They do not fit because they are perfect. They fit because they are perfect for one another. They fit because the odd shape of one nests perfectly in the curvature of the other 

You must be transparent; expose yourself to people you trust and let honesty define your union. Be accepting of his/her uniqueness and honor your differences. As you let your light shine, you unconsciously give others the permission to do the same 

Just when people begin to get acquainted, they realize that they would have to say good bye, maybe not forever, but for a brief moment. There is nothing more painful than saying goodbye to friends you’ve come to love and cherish. And because of the fear of saying goodbye, some people never open up and accept others into their lives; instead, they live their lives in total isolation, far away from the reach of people. How tragic.

As I conclude this article, may I inform those of you who are yet to serve our great nation, Nigeria that NYSC orientation camp isn’t an experience you should miss. Have an open mind, for it is in camp you learn life lessons that will forever change your life and alter your perception about certain things.

This is my experience; yours might be different and even better.

There’s a whole lot more to write about, but I will have to stop here.



adetola said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing experience with us Huntly, i wasn't quite shocked that you'd cherish each day of your servive at camp but im glad it turned out to be a wonderful experience for you.

*Michael Onobote* said...

This made me think and laugh also. Truely people are hurting and we can only be nice enough by reaching out in our own little way.

Anonymous said...

Your a crazy person, but that is why we love you. Really inspiring, rib cracking (almost died of laughter)and wonderful, keep up the good work. God bless.

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