Memories from Kaduna [2]

In addition to the weekly tests, I decided to tackle the problem of fear by organizing tutorials for maths and physics. The initial plan was to bring all the senior students in Fadan Karshi’s two secondary schools to one location for the tutorial. For this, I requested approval from NYSC to run this community tutorial as a personal CDS (Community Development Service) project

, even though my mind was already set to do it regardless of official authorization. Due to security concerns in the town recuperating from deadly attacks by Fulani herdsmen, the plan was modified—the tutorial had to hold within the confines of each individual school. This meant that for two days each week, I taught my usual students at my PPA after school hours, while for another two days, I taught students at the government school. The remaining workday was reserved for group CDS activities.

For Group CDS, I was assigned to the Charity Services and Gender Group, commonly called “Charity Club”. After months of an insecurity-induced ban on group meetings, the ban was lifted in September 2015. At the selection of executives, I was selected as the club’s General Secretary. This role allowed me to use experience garnered from prior participation in several organisations during my undergraduate study. As executives, we did the best we could to marshal members towards achieving the club’s objectives. We were able to reach out to prison inmates, hospital patients, and an orphanage whose children had lost their parents during the herdsmen’s attacks. Although several club members participated wholeheartedly, I noticed a general apathy to handling leadership roles, taking initiatives, and volunteering personal resources.

On the religious front, church boys will be church boys. Being a thousand kilometres from home did not excise church attendance from me. Coincidentally, my roommate was a former fellowship executive at his university, holding the same post I held at mine. Since NYSC is a “full package”, we couldn’t ignore the religious sector, though I didn’t get too involved with NCCF (Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship). By the end of the service year, we had become something akin to unofficial deacons, helping to revive the church’s youth fellowship. Our churchiness helped us to remain “moral” in an environment where one could easily “chop, clean mouth, waka comot”.

Let me now talk about my PPA, Victory Model International School, Fadan Karshi. Although this school would “bow” in the presence of many schools elsewhere, it is the best school in Sanga LGA. With a management actively seeking ways to improve, in my estimation, the school makes the best of its environmental circumstances. The management was very helpful and accommodating, doing whatever they could to make us comfortable. The teachers were also friendly, helping us blend in, while the students, despite their handicap, were an interesting company. We had an exceptional principal who threw his doors open for us. As a corper, one of my more unserious activities was to arrange visits to teachers’ houses, with the agreement that any teacher I visited was to offer me a local meal that I have never seen. Through this, I came across Kuka soup, Acha (“hungry rice”), Mi engeda, and other dishes.

My colleagues were another icing on the cake. We developed a camaraderie that helped us support each other through the months away from home. Both at the corpers’ lodge, and in the school premises, the unity was there, even when we had misunderstandings. During to security concerns, we stayed indoors most times, coming out mainly for church activities or to watch football matches. In fact, apart from one church vigil, the Flying Eagles’ 2015 final against Mali holds the record of being the only event for which we ignored security concerns to stay on the streets until 1am. We had a good time together, using cards and a stash of movies to burn time as we stayed secluded in a lodge whose neighbours had escaped the town to flee marauding herdsmen. Would I miss my colleagues? Yeah, but then, life goes on.

Now it has all ended. On Thursday, April 14, we received the “Certificate of National Service”, the document worth one year of northern adventure. In addition to the CNS, my roommate and I received a “Certificate of Commendation” for being a little more than ordinary corpers. We did our best to touch lives in the course of the year. My only grouse is with the Fulani herdsmen, whose lethal presence ensured that I never got the chance to climb any of the numerous hills around the community. The warning was clear—approach the hills at risk of your life. It’s all over. I go back home, ready for life’s next phase. Goodbye Kaduna!

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