It feels like just yesterday that I carried a box on my head as I waited for the long line at the entrance of the Obubra Cross River State NYSC orientation camp site, asking my self who sent me to serve sef.
Oh how I struggled to sleep with the bites and buzzing of mosquitoes which has changed the face of my body. How I queued just to shower with white dettol infused water that made me just miss the comforts of my toilet at home. How I lost tons of weight and got shades and shades darker by endlessly marching for hours and hours under the harsh Obubra sun. I remember it vividly, how I cried on the phone when I was posted to what seemed like a remote village and how my dad raged that they would send an “I just got back” to a village. Oh, how time flies!
It still seems surreal that I’ve successfully completed one year of service to my dear country, Nigeria. There will no longer be Corper Shaun greetings from strangers. I won’t have to wear the unattractive Adjuwaya which is now lying in a bin somewhere, with the exception of my crested vest though. No longer will I have to go through the stress of clearing for a monthly N19,800 allowance which went nowhere especially in this recession. I’m filled with a mix of emotions, it feels bittersweet.
In a dream I came to Calabar and in that same dream, I said my goodbyes, packed my way too many bags wondering how I had managed to accumulate so much stuff in under a year. As a Mass Communication graduate, being able to serve in Hit FM 95.9 – the first private radio station in Calabar was a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I gained so much professional working experience but since I worked as an editor and reporter in the news department, I spent my holidays and weekends, especially Sunday’s at work. I still wonder how the service year would have been if I had taught in the college of Education, Obudu, my initial place of primary assignment before I was called by the station.
I not only developed myself professionally this year but my personal blog grew in ways I can not explain. Having the awesome locations of Calabar was a big plus and it beefed up my photography and shout out to my cousin A.A and blog reader, turned blog photographer, turned friend, Beniboba for helping a sister out with pictures. Learning how to sew through the NYSC Skills Acquisition and training program was a major plus too, I learned the basics of sewing for less than 5k.
I met so many interesting people, made a few new friends, tried new dishes, explored the ancient city and learned new things about myself. I met celebrities, like Don Jazzy, Omoni Oboli, MC Galaxy, Sunny Eneji and Rugged man to name a few. I’ll never forget the first time I went on air during a show, or my first jingle for a pizza company and my several experiences casting entertainment news. I may have been stressed for the most part but it was so worth it.
I honestly did not connect with fellow corpers as much as I had hoped, this is something I quite regret. People always say I’m too reserved but in reality I’m not, I just like to take my time in getting to know people and I’ve never believed in forcing relationships or friendships. But my main girl, Abi of the newsroom and my teacher just understood me, I’ll miss her. For a globe trotter and traveller it’s still a struggle saying good bye and moving on but I guess you could say it gets easier with time.
I met up with fellow bloggers too.
So what will I miss about Calabar?
Well I’ll miss all the delicious Efik dishes I tried and learned how to make at my Aunties place, ranging from Afang soup, bitter leaf soup, white soup, fisherman soup, ekpang, edikikong soup. Shoutout to my aunt and her family for making my service year go with such an ease, that wouldn’t have been the same without them.
I’ll miss the quietness and smallness of the city, having to only spend less then 10 minutes commuting to work was a dream compared to the two hours I spend on the road simply trying to get to town from my home in Abuja. Most of all, I’ll miss the ease that comes with blog photography in Calabar, nobody asks unnecessary questions and the vast array of picture spots ranging from Hope Waddell to Tinapa Resort was a delight.
All in all thanks be to God for a successful service year, it has been Him all the way. Now onto the next phase of getting a job.
Most people feel that the NYSC scheme should be scrapped, I did too at first but after my service year I think I’ve changed my mind. All I would say is that the government should revise the scheme and post people to places where they won’t be redundant.
What was a highlight of your service year? And where did you serve? Do you think the scheme should be scrapped? Let me know in the comments.