3 weeks later and I’m still standing; although rather shaken, a few shades darker and a couple of pounds lighter but yes I’m still standing. Orientation camp was an experience and a half. I expected to meet lots of other international students who had bravely uprooted their lives and decide to venture into Nigeria, however the joke was on me because there were next to none. A lot of them were Fresh from the streets of Naija and were so stunned by my accent that they often stood for minutes at a time gawking; heads tilted, eyes wide, and drool slowly slivering down their mouths. I know I am stupidly sexy but really should I be attracting that much attention?! 😉
Anyhoo, registration at camp was an adventure in itself. I arrived to find thousands of people standing in agitated clusters under the scorching sun. As usual there was no sign of order, thus many people were stumbling around in confusion; scratching their heads and hissing in frustration. After asking many others I eventually worked out that the first step in this long and extremely tedious process was to line up for the hostel. I was surprised to find that the hostel largely resembled archaic castle ruins thus I really questioned whether it was inhabitable, regardless groups of up to 30 Corpers at a time were shepherded like lost sheep into the different cells. I was kinda scared because lots of family and friends had warned me about protecting myself and my things from people at camp but luckily I shared a room with a few nice girls and my overly protective cousin so no stealing occurred. The room was extremely cramped so any hope of privacy was lost. Those girls saw me naked more times than any guy ever will, and I must admit that I saw my fair share of boobs and bums too. After a while I started feeling comfortable walking around half naked; if the girls covered in stretch marks, or the ones that had tiny boobies or even the ones that were overly hairy could comfortably flaunt their assets then why couldn’t I? One time my friend even admitted that if she was a lesbian she would soooo fancy me because I have amazing boobies. Not sure if I was flattered or rather scared, either way my ego did get rather inflated 🙂
So that dirty little room was the place where I spent much of my camp, either gisting with my friends or hiding from the ruthless platoon leaders who demanded our presence on the parade ground. I’m sorry but waking up at 3.30am to bathe in those intolerable bathrooms then go outside to endure hours of pointless speeches and ill-prepared drills grew rather tedious, so I found a way of faking illness or simply just hid under my sheets to enjoy a few hours extra sleep. In my room I became friends with a lot of the girls, many of whom behaved really motherly towards me; laughing at my antics and advising me on how to survive in Naija. They were all besotted with my strong English accent and my childish naivety in respect to Nigeria, therefore I enjoyed some special treatment, but mainly they took me under their wings because I was a baby in comparison, with many of them being a great deal older than me due to the ridiculously flawed educational system that left them spending more years in university than their course entailed. And the worse thing is that many organisations have age restrictions for the graduate trainees that they take on, so if you have been unfortunate enough to go to a public university that has been on strike for several years then you are automatically at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job. You could go to a private university where strikes don’t happen but then the fees are seriously pricey and their rules tend to be unreasonably strict; they went around cutting peoples hair at my cousins university because it wasn’t shoulder length. How the length of someones hair effects their performance in school is beyond me. Anyhoo, back to my room mates…… Not all of them were friend material. Some were a lot closer to my age and were noticeably more immature, always talking about boys, sex, money and drinking, plus they were the least willing to engage in activities. I could tell that they were the richer, spoilt girls, the kind of superficial and materialistic girls that bombard the Nigerian movies. Whenever you walked past they were either sleeping, drinking, gisting about boys or bitching about girls. Exactly the kind of people I DON’T need in my life.
One thing I’ve learnt about Nigerian girls is that some of them have NO SHAME! I remember having to bathe in the revolting cuticles and other girls just walking in, placing a bucket before me, and proceeding to shit. They would literally just shit in front of me with no shame whatsoever. I had to fight to finish bathing with the little oxygen I had left in my lungs because I knew that if I caught a whiff of that foul stench I would vomit. And all over their shit-filled bodies! what killed me most is that as the shitter moaned and groaned, straining to push the shit out of their rectum, they would look at me, shamelessly scrutinising my wet body as I cleaned all of my parts that were supposed to be private! I felt violated, as if my breasts, bum, poonani and all were for show, and I weren’t getting paid! KMT.
Another thing is that many females have seriously warped perceptions of men. I was having a conversation with some of the girls and they said something that really got to me. One girl was telling me about how she knew a girl who went to her boyfriends house and on arrival she saw another woman who he’d been secretly sleeping with in his home, but because the man told the other woman that she had to leave because his ‘madam’ was home this automatically showed that he respected and loved his woman. Errrrrr what kinda foolish logic is that?! I don’t know about you but for a man to cheat on me, keep a mistress on the side, and then proceed to hide this, he must be a low-down, sleazy, dirty, mother fking dog that has no respect for me at all! what an abomination! What killed me most is that a lot of them thought that this was okay. Do Nigerian women really think this way? is their lack of self-worth so great that it’s acceptable for a man to cheat on them as long as he hides it? If that’s the case then I’m not surprised the men are as promiscuous and unfaithful as they are when it’s accepted rather than fought.
Back to the camp experience…..Actual camp was really tedious, pointless and kinda disorganised. To register I had to queue up over 2 days. It just didn’t make sense! You would have to queue up to get a form, fill in the form, then queue up to hand it in to someone else, then queue up to get another form etc etc. If things were just made more orderly and people just used their common sense then Nigerians would see a large improvement. For me it was particularly tedious since, after getting to the front of the queue at 11pm (after a whole days queueing) I handed in my form to be told that my (unique) ID number had been given to another individual as well, which meant that I had to collect my folder and go back to the beginning of the registration process where they would change the ID number and I would change my details on all of my documents. LONGAGE!!! but to be honest, I wasn’t very surprised. In naija the smallest most simple things end up taking ridiculous amounts of time. The craziest thing is that even after all of this shiz my platoon leader had the nerve to call me claiming that she had made a correction in my file, and because she had called me (for like 1 minute) I should send her credit. There lay my first corruption-related dilemma. Do I send this money-hungry witch credit or do I just ignore her demand and just hope she doesn’t ‘mistakenly’ lose my file and render all my efforts to register useless. After that I frantically sought the advice of soooo many of my friends and family, ultimately coming to the conclusion that I would rather send her some little credit than suffer the potential consequences and have my folder go missing. That simple event highlighted to me how F*KD up Naija was. This country is the way it is because there are plenty of people like that shameful platoon leader who abuse their power.
When I remember camp I think about:
The poor hygiene: a lot of the ground was in a filthy condition, largely because a lot of people were too retarded to use the bin or just clean up after themselves (leaving the residual from their plates in the bathroom sink and leaving their freshly loosed extensions all over the floor), plus there wasn’t a constant supply of running water so many weren’t washing their hands or even flushing the toilet.
The thirstiness of the men: The Nigerian men tended to flock to me; maybe because to them my accent meant wealth or a green card. Some of the chat up lines I heard were just SHAMEFUL, and one that sticks in my mind is “Bim you are the epitome of beauty”. Errrrrr thanks??? Obviously this guy had typed ‘shit chat up lines’ into google. What killed me was their persistence. They didn’t understand how to take no for an answer! so many times I claimed I had a boyfriend, yet their response was “we can work around it” or “he isn’t here right now babe but I am, so lets go with the flow”. Some fools even had the nerve to insult me then counter it with compliments. I don’t know whether it worked in the past but it pissed me the hell off. One poor guy in particular felt the brunt of my wrath, after the assault he stood there teary- eyed and begging me to accept his apology, at which I just walked away laughing. Oh yeah! and Naija guys have no sense of personal space! like if I’m meeting you for the first time don’t prolong the handshake, stroke my hand, or even worse massage my knee!! errrrrr can you say sexual harassment?! kmt.
The early morning drills: These things were a joke. They woke us up at 3.30/4am to go outside and carry out a few pointless drills. Not to forget repeating the pledge and singing the national and NYSC anthems. The drills weren’t as tedious as I expected; sometimes a beat would be played in the background and everyone would dance. We would have to sing silly songs ‘If a corper marries corper they go bon mumu’. Often I had no idea what they were saying but just learnt to go with the flow, but every second I was bracing myself for when the song would erupt into ‘hold something, hold something’. Then the sweat-covered, filthy guys would propel themselves onto their desired girls. I don’t think I’d ever screamed so loud in my life; from the shock of being picked up and spun round and round by some random dude, as well as the disgust of having their BO and sweat rub off all over me. EWWWW!!
The shamelessness of the females: I’ve already described how some girls shamelessly shit in front of me, but this wasn’t the only shameless deed I observed. There were various occasions when I’d been quietly brushing my teeth to have my silence broken by some Neanderthal cave-woman who was brushing so loudly my body was trembling with the vibrations, plus she would hack and spit so ferociously she’d put a camel to shame. I mean wtf ever happened to manners?! if the ladies behaved so bush then what must the dudes be like??? And everyday it seemed like a fight broke out. Rather than talking their issues over the girls would holler and shout the house down. I mean, why so aggressive? I found it so hard to tell the difference between when people were having harmless conversations or actually arguing.
The poor standard of English: I guess this was expected but I couldn’t help but cringe every time the instructors would make demands during the drills. Often singing “I go like dis” as they demonstrated the movements, and describing simple movements like put your arms up and open and close your hand as “Put it up and catch the air, catch the air!”.
The mammy market: Without this place in camp it would have seriously sucked. The camp food was often inedible so I would buy some rice, indomi or even semo at the market. The conditions the foods were cooked in weren’t much better hygiene-wise, and regardless of where I ate my bout of diarrhoea arrived on schedule, but at least it was more tasty and the environment was fun. It was here I would eat my beloved chicken and chips, and chill at the fayrouz bar as the horny corpers grinded around me.
The hideously ill-fitting uniform: The NYSC uniform is actually disgusting! I was given 1 pair of shoes 2 sizes too big and another that was too small and without inner soles and laces. The shirts were stupidly shabby, beige instead of white, decorated with holes and so transparent I might as well have walked around topless. The Khaki trousers were made of the cheapest and thinnest material, lacked the crucial buttons to cover my private area, and had so much thread hanging from them I often tripped. But apart from those countless flaws .everything was fine 🙂
The horniness of the girls and guys: One night all of the girls in my room rushed out screaming and flashing their torches because apparently 3 guys and 3 girls were caught having sex outside the hostel. There were loads of other rumours about gays, lesbians and heterosexuals making out in weird places but luckily for me I wasn’t around to see them. I mean Naija must have some serious nymphomaniacs if they cant go without for just 3 weeks!
So basically that’s the downlow on orientation camp. A complete waste of time if you ask me. So now I start work at Oando. Hoping it will be a more positive experience but I sure as hell ain’t holding my breath.