Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#10/22)

Wednesday.

Today looks okay besides the fact that the morning is quite cold and it’s the turn of my platoon in the sanitation department. Thank God!!! I was assigned the Army quarters to clean. I wonder what I would have done if I was given the gutters or toilets.

My hair brought a lot of attention. I didn’t know the amount of people that knew who I was till I made my hair. Most folks asked who made it. Others asked why I made it. Most complimented. And the others just assumed I made it for my camp “boyfriend.” I wondered how almost everyone knew that I went from a small afro to braids. I mean I don’t think my face changed that much.

I joined up a skill acquisition class today. Automobile repair. You best believe that the men in my class did a double take when I went for the sign up. Afterall a really beautiful, slim and sexy female cannot become a car mechanic. I am determined to prove them wrong. 

During a practice parade in the evening, it was time for the salutation of my camp commandant and I was standing beside him at the time, as each parade troop passed, I could feel a thousand daggers in the form of eyes stab me repeatedly. How did I feel? Unbothered.

I am actually tired of giving out my contact to people. An average Nigerian guy is more or less a pest. I have had people say hello and I have no idea where I have met them. Can this camp just end already so I can proceed to block their contact from my phone. On the other hand Mr. David is still playing his game. 

Please readers, I need advice, how do I get him to stop. He needs to know I am not interested in him and will probably never be. 

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#9/22)

Tuesday.

Today is rather uninteresting. I registered for some professional courses, listened to boring lectures, attended evening parade etc.

The only highlight of today is that I made my hair into long ass reaching braids. Yeah, the woman really got to me. Believe it or not, after making it a lot of people in my hostel commented on how I used to look like a boy with my afro. I’m actually surprised at the number of people who thought so. I’m not sure how I feel after making this hair. Maybe I should have just ignored the lady. 

It is ten pm and I am really tired. I go to my bed after taking a shower and realise it is drenched from the head to the foot and I have to sleep on it. The soldiers decided it was a good thing to chase latecomers out with a bucket of water in a hostel full of bunks tightly pushed together. 

I am just too tired to bother. My clothes come off and I lay there and welcome the dampness.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day at Camp (#8/22)

Today looks alright although I’m really tired and sleepy. I get up quite late, 4:45am. I really have stopped caring about punishments. Surprisingly, I was able to take my shower and all before the whistle went off at 5am. I am becoming very militarised I guess. 

I was approached yet again about running for the beauty pageant. This time by the camp director, I decline yet again. Perhaps I will say the real reason I’m declining later. Perhaps.

Morning drills as usual, brief lecture on servicom and finally the parade. I meet with my fellow platoon officers at 8:30am. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, I somehow made it to become one of the platoon’s coordinator. Lucky charm right? 
I and nine of my colleagues were appointed platoon coordinators for any activities related to the platoon. Progress I guess, at getting a good PPA (Place of Primary Assignment).

I am a lucky chap I think. At least in this camp. I usually tend to avoid or meander from the afternoon sessions because they are so boring and tiring. Today, I decided to go even after having only a 30 minute break. We started at 10am to end 2pm. Two hours into the lecture, I started to feel the first wave of nausea. It must have been about thirty-six degree celsius with about two thousand people crowded around me. 

To make matters worse, I wasn’t seated. I just knew then that I had to leave. I didn’t care if I had to lie. I had to find a place to lie down quickly. 
I passed through three checkpoints successfully. On the fourth one, I saw that my camp commandant had gone into the hostels to fish out those hiding in the ceiling, under the bunks, in the bathroom etc. I was really lucky. If I had stayed behind… 

Next up were the man ‘o’ war drills. It involved assault tests, bumper rope climbing, beam balancing, jacob’s ladder climbing. They are really not as bad as I thought it would be. Or maybe I am adjusting. I have never been more surprised at female corpers till today. Just to put up a picture on social media, they were clamouring for pain, torture, strenous drills, potential death jumps…. just so that they can put up a picture. It is compulsory yes, but I do not think it’s meant to be enjoyed. I wasn’t happy. But then I am difficult to please, aren’t I? I think I enjoyed the war chants more. 

I just got insulted and called a man by an official because I am not wearing earrings or doing my hair. She goes on to ask if I have a boyfriend. To which I answered her no, then she says that she’s not surprised that I don’t have a boyfriend. Because no boy would want somebody like me. 


“Bring yourself out. It is because you lived abroad that you have the lackadaisical attitude like them.”




“You better go to the clinic and pierce your ears. And do your hair. I told them to stop you that you’re a boy trying to enter female hostel.”

I actually feel like crying. Was I the one who decided to make myself slim and “flat”? Was I given an option of being curvy and chose straight as an arrow? Everytime I try to pick myself up from the hell of despair and body shaming, I get it back twice over. I’m tired. Maybe I should just give up and all of them will rest. Let my existence be no more. Yeah. That will make them happy I am sure. 
But maybe it is my fault. 

I made the decision to cut my hair.
I made the decision to not wear jewellery during camp.

I made the decision to not use makeup.

I made the decision to let my mental state affect my physical self. Yes, it’s my fault. I apologise to all those that are disappointed with me. I apologise to all those potential boyfriends who left or “friendzoned” me because I am not woman enough. I am sorry. From now on, I will only aim to please you.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#7/22)

Sunday. 

Today is our rest day. It’s 6am. I should probably get back to sleep and then attend service later.

Shrill! Shrill!! Shrill!!!

There goes my plan. I wonder what it is this time. The Brigadier General is coming on an impromptu visit, so no church service.
Great! Just great!!

Now we have to be on our best behaviour, well arranged kits etc. And of course, another round of sanitation. 
I think I’m really going to pass out from all this energy I am expending. I have taken enough soda and noodles to last me a lifetime. I do not even have appetite anymore.

The Brigadier General is impressed with us and camp. We put on quite a show for him; tug of war, band display, cultural display etc. As a result we get a big cow as a gift to eat and a lot of praises from our camp director.

Lest I forget… remember David, I think he wants something. Should I tell him straight up that I am not interested or wait it out for him to state his intentions. I should probably wait it out, not ready to lose him he’s a good camp friend. But really, if he puts his arms on the small of my back one more time…

I’m caught in a massive web of lies just to keep my identity hidden. I don’t want these folks to know me. I do not trust any of them. But they are just so nosy. If I ignore, I appear a snob. If I answer, I’ll put up with more of their questions. No. I will continue to be hidden. I am just your normal, average Nigerian girl with big thick spectacles as a result of years of reading.

My colleagues are not buying it though. They suspect there is more to me, afterall, somehow I have managed to “bag” the top officials at camp. I put a spell on them. They want to find out how I did it. But really I didn’t do anything. I’m very engaging. 

And obviously my commander is still my friend. I think people are beginning to get used to the fact that we’re really just gonna chat all the time and they will see us together most of the time. I met his family today. He has a really cute baby. She’s only seven month old. His kid sister made me fish and chips. So nice, that it reminds me of England.

I make a couple of calls and check in to sleep at 10:45pm.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#6/22)

Saturday. 

I have to write the day on my journal because I’m losing touch with reality slowly. I sometimes have to secretly check my phone to check the time or day. As we are not allowed watches on the parade ground. The hours are just passing by.

I made a new friend yet again today. The martial arts instructor. He is quite small in stature. But believe me when I say he’s a very formidable man. Maybe I should consider joining the martial arts squad. Afterall I’ve taken Yoga and self-defence classes. My legs have a lot of flexibility in them.

Today doesn’t look like a Saturday at all. I don’t even know what a weekend feels like anymore. It’s amazing the number of females that are very dirty and unkempt. Here I am fussing over a little stain on my boots from drill sessions and then there are females messing up the toilet and throwing used pads on the floor. I am fed up. I don’t think I can shower in the bathroom anymore. I mean I already use cold water to have my shower in a dark room at that. Even the presence of an antiseptic is doing little to appease me. All I need is a really hot shower so I can scrub out all the impurities. 

Oh my days!!! I saw a scorpion and a snake looking like thing. I want to leave. I cannot believe it’s only been six days. I feel like I have spent at least a month here. My financial resources are depleting steadily as a result of my inability to adjust to the meals served to us. Plus I really need fruits and smoothies in my life. I do not know if this is a bad thing or a good thing, but since the beginning of orientation camp I have been able to save myself data and airtime. It’s a good thing because now I have an excuse to leave the social circle for a bit and not talk to anyone. It is also bad because I miss internet surfing for interesting articles. I miss my dance videos as well.

Anyway, sixteen days to go. I am just glad tomorrow is Sunday and they say we have a relatively freer schedule. Maybe I can catch up on a number of things then.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#5/22)


Friday. 

The day begins as usual. We take the national salute and complete the morning activities. Today is also the beginning of games day. Platoon five against Platoon three for football and volleyball. Our boys and girls are not prepared. I know this will end badly. They just sprang it on us after morning parade. No time for practice or even knowing your teammates and their ability. 

Today I actually sit on grass due to exhaustion. I didn’t care if my khaki was going to be ruined or if some insect like creature was waiting to sting someone. I am just physically, mentally and emotionally tired. I do not know if I am exhausted because of the actual stress or because I miss being a loner. It’s a lot of effort to memorise names, faces and smile so much.

All I eat in camp are staple foods; bread, rice, yam and noodles. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered fish/chicken and chips, akara and pancakes today. I am so happy. Finally a kind of change to my rather boring meal plan.

On this day, I want to give a shoutout to someone amazing. You’ve been my companion every night since I started this journey. You never mind the odd hours call, the lengthy nature of the calls and the constant network fluctuation. You keep me almost sane everyday. At least if the day is terrible, hearing your voice each night is comforting. It is a lullaby. So, thank you.

And yes, platoon five lost the football match that finished with a penalty shoot out. Although we played against a team with ten men.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#4/22)

Under the sun or in the rain.

I am pissed. I have officially had enough. After five hours of standing in the name of orientation and swearing in without breakfast, we’ve barely gotten back and gotten out of our khakis before we are dragged backed and pursued out. We initially refused but were punished with frog jumps and squats.


“A man that loves you will give you his money”

A new phrase I heard today.

There are really some shallow minded people. I do not know if it’s as a result of past heartbreak or there’s been a history of abuse that money has become their coping mechanism. Anyway, I refuse to be part of them.

Today I also notice two things, one, I live in an extremely patriarchal society. I’ve heard so many derogatory terms for women including “software”. In addition, my male colleagues take it personal when you give them something with your left hand. Never minding if your right hand is busy.

Two, women around here are unbashedly unashamed about their nudity. They walk around butt naked, sleep butt naked, eat butt naked etc. at whatever time of the day when we aren’t wearing our kits. The funny thing is that I am actually beginning to join them. I used to be body shy but guess what; Naked I come to this earth, naked I return.

Today we had an election for platoon coordinators. I was one of the elected. A lot of people must really like my face. It’s actually so funny. I came here with the intention of keeping to myself. That has been incredibly hard… not for lack of effort. I think the inspectors, officials and soldiers just like my face, demeanour, attitude etc. from the very first day I came.

At the end of a very long day, it is finally time to sleep. Before I sign off, the food here is nasty and definitely not edible. I have not and will never touch that food.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#3/22)

Third Day. 
3am wake up call.

Parade starts promptly at 4:30am. Each corper in our different platoons. 

I made a new friend today. My camp commandant. Weird right. I, an otondo of lowly status laughing and exchanging contacts with a high ranked captain in the army and military police for that matter. I feel all eyes on me; Judging, wishing, hating, envying etc. I am not really bothered to be fair. I’ve had a fair share of people glancing my way since I began this rather uneventful journey so far.

Female soldiers call me aluminium, male soldiers call me mummy’s pet. Fellow corpers call me connection madam. I am actually confused with all the name calling. I try my best to explain to my fellow corpers that I am just lucky. I have an uncanny ability to make a way for myself whenever I am in a new place.
Light switches are still broken by the way. So blackout in my hostel and bathroom for three straight days.

My platoon’s core value is Commitment. Something I am very scared about. The irony of it all.

My hostel mates are a bunch of crazy individuals. They are the only part of this camp that make me happy. Their jokes and stories are a good way to unwind after a long day.

Nothing else interesting today. Goodnight y’all.

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#2/22)


The shrill tone of my alarm rouses me at 3am. I swear, I just slept five minutes ago. How is it time to get up already? I grudgingly go about my morning business. 

By 4am, I was off to start my camp registration together with the thousands of other people. It was indeed a struggle. We were assigned to our individual platoons for further registration and collection of our gears. By a little after 8am I was done with my registration ahead of hundreds of people in my platoon.
 
Because of my efficiency at completing my registration, or at least I think it is, I am now assigned as a temporary platoon leader in charge of registration. It is quite stressful attending to hundreds of corpers who are already antsy and stressed from their long journeys and lack of sleep. I had finished my registration duty at 10pm and barely had time to take a shower before lights out at 10:30pm.

Recapping on the day, there are quite a number of people with queer characters in the world. I think the one good thing about serving my country is understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around me, my ideas, lifestyle etc. People are extremely different from me.

I made my first camp friend. Let’s call him David. He looks nice and sensible. I heard he was made parade commander because of his past experiences with the military. 

I am actually a good leader. Quite good at organising things. I didn’t lose my temper on any of my platoon members during registration. Baby steps to winning their vote in a few days. You see I want to be the platoon leader. I am ambitious like that.

I am genuinely surprised at myself. I don’t know how I managed to stay on my feet that long with only three hours of sleep in thirty six hours, taking only a break from 2pm to 3pm for breakfast/lunch. 

Lights are out and I resume my night routine of returning phone calls I received during the day and making a few personal calls as well. I slept late yet again against my wishes. 

Posted in Memoirs

A Day At Camp (#1/22)

The time has come for me to leave home and go serve my motherland.

I woke at 4:30am to begin a rather tedious and ardous journey to Sagamu Camp nine hours away. I boarded the bus to leave at half six. I am not sure how I feel about today. Mixed feelings I guess. I am overjoyed to leave home but at the same time, I do not know what to expect. I haven’t done endurance treks in my life, or early morning parades, or uncomfortable exercise regimens or communal living as an adult. I haven’t lived life following a strict routine and timetable. I admit that my life is sometimes monotonous but it has never been this regulated.

Anyway, we set off on our journey. The view is quite beautiful. It is my first time taking a road trip by that route. Flight was so much easier in the past. Pardon me, I digress. Our driver is not the friendliest. I think he probably had a bitter quarrel with his wife this morning. It can’t just have been an argument with his colleagues. I assure you that his mood stinks up the bus. 

He enters into gallops and bad spots on purpose. He does 140km/h on a road with 100km/h speed limit. I mean this speed is okay if the road was a bit free or lonely. But it isn’t. He overtakes other vehicles like he is on set for a fast and furious scene. I can only hope that I survive this trip and make it to my camp in one piece. I have heard stories of prospective otondos (the national slang for national slaves like us) being involved in accidents on their way to camp.

I arrive in one piece at our stop, however with body pains and lots of pictures as proof of travel. I see all the taxi drivers then, and hawkers of essentials we might need during camp. It is almost as if they can smell prospective otondos like us from a mile. We are surrounded before we could even adjust to our bearings. 

I buy a plastic bucket, markers and ID holders. And negotiate with one of the taxi drivers to take me the rest of the five minutes trip to the “dreaded” camp. On arrival, the driver tries to dupe me out of my change, he met the wrong girl. I went through the motions of personal items searching, documents checking etc. And got a few of my things seized. I proceeded to a queue to get assigned a hostel. Made some new friends alongside, who eventually became my hostel mates. 

Now the camp environs are quite nice compared to other camps but it isn’t comfortable. Not even close. We have got bunk beds with tiny little spaces, we call, corners that is shared by four people. I proceeded to the top bunk I was assigned to and began to bring some semblance of organisation to my corner. By the time I was through, it was 7pm. Water isn’t flowing in the bathrooms or communal taps and I was in desperate need of a shower. There is no light either. I take my torchlight and my bucket to proceed a little distance to the main tank to get water. I succeed. They bring light. I go back and find that all the light switches in my hostel are broken. So we’re still in darkness. Thank God for torchlights.
The bathroom isn’t dirty and disgusting , but it doesn’t look hygienic either. I took a much needed cold shower. I called family and well-wishers and eventually got around to planning my move for the next day at 12am, then I slept.

Posted in Memoirs

Plus One Year…

It’s another birthday again. No pomp. No pageantry. I’m beginning to think my luck at getting a good birthday has run out. So today is shitty as well. I end up entering into a fight with mother. I mean what else did I expect from May the 4th. Just give up alre…

Alia!


Alia!!


Wake up! Stop dreaming. You’re just dreaming.

I wake up then. Heart thumping, eyes squinting, trying to get my bearings. I pick my phone up then and see numerous calls and messages.

Ring the bells loudly.

Sound the alarm.

Blow the trumpets and horns.

I have finally had some semblance of contentment on the day that is my birthday.

So where do I start from to relate this rather beautiful day that is my birthday. 

I’ll start with the gory and move on to the beautiful.
I am suffering from a second degree burn courtesy of my first bike ride yesterday. 

How does it feel? 
Like someone is finely chopping off my skin using just a piece of cutlery. Ouch! It really hurts. I know. To get some semblance of a treatment as I wasn’t close to any proper medical centre, I had to be held down by a big bully. Because I would have gone bat-shit crazy on my “doctor” if I wasn’t held down while she was peeling of the dead skin. But funny enough, I wouldn’t have spent my day anyhow else.

It was warm and cozy. And sincerely that’s all I’ve wanted for a birthday for a long time now. No stressful thinking, no sour mood, no bad exams, no special dinners, no putting up forced smiles and most importantly, no tears. 

I was just relaxed. The mood was just right. It was as if I was transported to another world. Far from making difficult choices, far from responsibilities, far from temptations. I spent half of the day with people I love and we were just, well, chilling. It did break my heart when I had to go to some other function. I wished it just continued that way. I wanted to continue to be in my safe place. Far from reality and expectations. Maybe, someday I will have that experience again. Maybe. In the meantime however, I have taken enough mental pictures to preserve memories I feel that will last a lifetime.

If I were to die now, I know that I will die happy. Afterall, I ate a guava for the first time. It really is an exotic fruit. I crossed really busy motorways and climbed an overhead pedestrian bridge. I rode on a motorcycle for the first time and experienced the wind blowing in full force at my face. If I wasn’t such a novice at riding a motorcycle, and if such modes of transport came with a secure belt, I would have very much liked to put my hands out and feel the breeze. And to cap it all, I met two really cute puppies. I’ve never had the chance to touch or pet a puppy. As a lover of dogs, this was breathtakingly amazing! They are just cute, tiny, cuddly, slippers eating creatures.

Do you ever just lie around doing nothing except holding hands, talking, laughing and messing around with someone. That, dear folks is the meaning of contentment.

There was no party, alcohol, exotic dinners, strippers and all but it was really a Happy Birthday. Cheers to me!!

Excerpts of Birthday Wishes:




“Happy Birthday to a very special friend. Words are not enough to describe how exceptionally amazing you are. May this new year yield beautiful beginnings in your life. May all your dreams and aspirations come true. May people see the evidence of God’s goodness in your life. Have a wonderful day baby girl.”


“Happy Birthday 🎊🎉 hope you have a great day I love you and miss you xxxxx”


“Happy Birthday to you my love, my twin in the mind, my sweetie, the sugar in my tea. God bless your new age and crown you with his Glory. I love you Girlfriend.”


“An awesome friend, exceptional, an epitome of knowledge and beauty. Happy bornday.”
“Babeh!!!!! The loyal one! The truthful, loving, sacrificial one! I thank God for bringing you into my life!! Who wouldn’t want a friendship that never ends no matter how far we are from each other! You are amazing, amazing, amazing!!!! God bless you! Thank you for out of the blues dinners, long chats in your bedroom in Sheffield, for the times you charged my account when it was low. You are everything a girl needs in a friend. I love you, love you, love you!!!! And I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you unravelled! Happy birthday!!!!”




Happy Birthday ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤. I stand on the Word of God and I decree that everything will work for your good. You will know no sorrow. Where others are struggling, the grace of God will answer to you.”


“Nwanyi Mbaise, ego onyibo m, nwa na-ato pieces, nwa oma, ada daddy ya, biko ka m jukwa ajuju ya, ndi ogo, ha biago? You know I will go there. Happy birthday my day 1. I just want to appreciate you for being all I have ever needed. I miss you every second man. Can’t wait for you to come back cos our adventures have been put on hold. One thing is sure, I have saved money this year because I didn’t have to buy you a birthday present. Yaaay! Happy birthday…”