Monday, March 17, 2008

The Aje-butter’s guide to surviving NYSC orientation camp

In recognition of the 2008 Batch A corpers who will be reporting for orientation camp this March, here’s a snapshot of what to expect those first 3 weeks of your National Youth Service Corps scheme:

On registration day, come very early or very late. By early, I mean the night before. Late is a day or two after registration day. If you don’t heed this advice and like me, you waltz into Abuja’s Kubwa camp at 8:30 a.m. on the D-day, bring an umbrella because you’ll be standing in the sun for the next 10 hours. Also bring a bucket to sit on when the queue is at a 20-minute standstill (this bucket will also be useful for bathing for the next 3 weeks). If you’re a real butter chick, bring your own pillow to pad the bucket so it doesn’t hurt your bum.

If you’re standing outside the camp, ask your neighbor to save your spot on the queue so you can check out the movement at the front. Of course what you’re really doing is looking for a familiar face who will allow you jump the line. In camp, we call it shunting. When you find such a person, quickly thank your old neighbor for watching your stuff and upgrade yourself.

If this scenario doesn’t play out, form close ties with those around you because you don’t know if that guy with bad breath is the nephew to the Bwari Local government Chairman, who will soon send aides to whisk the guy to the front of the line—at which juncture you can claim your buddy ties and also upgrade yourself.

If you’re looking very butterish, a shady man might offer to move you off the streets and into the camp for 1, 000 naira. Say no for two reasons: if you’re going to shunt, use your brains and save your money for the camp’s mammy market. Second, there’ll be no saving face if the soldier at the gate sends you back with a good lashing!

Mentally prepare yourself. Registration will push you to the limit no matter how tush you are. It’s a 2-5 day affair of shoving, yelling, sweating and smelling all sorts of body odors. Be naughty or nonchalant, crafty or charming, whatever persona you chose to imbibe to get your way, remember to throw in a little courtesy to your fellow corpers.

Essentials to bring to NYSC camp:

-Small Bucket (unless you can carry a large one across a hundred feet)
-Ideally, you should bring a mattress and save yourself the horror of sleeping on the camp supplied ones, but they won’t allow it, so save yourself the stress and bring multiple blankets and bed sheets instead.
-Flashlight and extra batteries
-White T shirts, white shorts, white socks and white sneakers
-Vitamin C, aspirin and malaria drugs
-Laundry soap
-Toilet Roll
-Money to buy food and anything else you forget from the mammy market

If you manage risk well, bring these along:
Digital camera, iPod, your 90,000 naira cellphone

Contraband that you’ll have to surrender at the gate:
Boiling ring, iron, cutlery (don’t ask.)

Put all these (except the bucket) in a small duffel bag and bring a padlock for the duffel. Toilet facilities are shabby so unless you want to perfect the act of shot putting your waste, don’t bring milk, Cerelac, biscuit or anything that will accelerate your digestive processes.

How to Sign up for NYSC as a foreign-trained student

For those of you who are curious, I'll be posting some information on how to become an official khaki-wearing, government owned corper.

Update: The official NYSC website is now live and updated. Click here for the page listing requirements.

Take these original documents and several photocopies to the NYSC headquarters in Maitama, Abuja:
  • WAEC Certificate – They prefer the official waec- issued certificate, but this is only available five years after you take the exam. So if you don’t have it, just bring along your statement of results issued by your secondary school.
  • University transcript
  • University diploma
  • Birth certificate
  • Nigerian passport (what they’re after is the “seen on arrival” airport stamp)
  • 2 passport photographs ( actually, make 20 prints because you’ll use them for camp registration)

You have to submit all these in person. So be in the country several weeks prior to the call up date because there is a cut off date for submission. Batch A 2008 is getting called up next week. Batch B will be called up in September.

When you’re filling out the application form at the headquarters, there’s a slot to put your first and second choices of the state you prefer to serve. Nigerian students don’t have this option on their own forms, so even though you’re not guaranteed your choice, word on the streets is that foreign-trained students receive special consideration.

The call up letters will be ready a week or a few days before you’re supposed to report at orientation camp. To claim your call up letter and find out where you’ve been posted to, take your passport back to NYSC headquarters.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"V Monologues: The Nigerian Story" in Abuja

I watched the second showing of the V Monologues in Abuja on Friday and all I can say is: Ayaya yaya!Fantastic script, fantastic cast, fantastic acting.
It is a stunning production. With just a dozen seasoned actresses and a handful of men on drums, director Wole Oguntokun takes the internationally-renowned Vagina monologues and turns it into an accurate retelling and long overdue tribute to lives of millions of Nigerian women.
The script seamlessly tackles widowhood, rape, incest, domestic violence and female sexuality with depth and humor. In the opening scene, Kemi Akindoju's character fumes with both love and hate towards her incestuous daddy. In another, a misinformed, born-again woman (Omonor Imobhio) stops her first orgasm on her wedding night to cast out the"evil" sensations. A few scenes later, Tunde Aladese explains to her in-laws why she grabbed her husband's manhood--and threatens to do worse the next time around!
If feelings make you uncomfortable, there's no walking out or closing your ears against the intensity during this show. The in-your-face storytelling will find you either singing along with the characters, or frozen in stunned silence, or breaking into hysterical laughter and crazy applause.
The V monologues boldly captures the real life stories that go untold, unseen and unaddressed in the hearts of countless girls and women. To the writers, cast and director of V Monologues: The Nigerian Story, I say:
Well done. Encore. Encore! Where and when can I get a DVD?
For more details on the showings check out the director's blog, here