Issa Throwback! LoL
Saw the photos in my archive today, and I remembered…. The power of photos (take lots of them in your lifetime!)… I was reminded of that Sunday the Lady at the faculty office handed me my call-up letter as she said: “Ah! Why you! Only you! Jalingo loun-loun (meaning: Jalingo all the way) Sha go and win Miss NYSC for us”.. as if that was all that mattered. LoL
We were set to go for the compulsory one-year Youth Service Programme that week and had gone to school to pick-up our call up letters. Majority of my friends had been posted to Ogun State and to make matters “worse” (better actually. lol). I was the only person posted to Taraba state in my entire faculty. I never hessperedit!
Many questions followed: how will I go? Is there an airport? Boko Haram nko? General concerns from my family. But as with the saying, when there’s no way back, you keep moving forward! (LoL Is this even a saying??).
Of course we found a way and eventually came the day…
Boarded a Cross-Country bus to Jalingo Orientation Camp (I still remember it was N12,000. lmao). That would be the beginning of some life-long memories. It was a 24-hour journey with two pregnant women on board. “Driver stoppppp I need to vomit” “Driver stop I need to stretch”.. Lots of compulsory stop-overs, thanks to both of them. We slept, woke, gisted, shared snacks, kept quiet, took turns to charge our phones then it became actually annoying- a never ending journey. At a point we actually threatened the driver. “We are not going again. Are you carrying us away? S T O P !!!” The already-used-to-his-job man didn’t even answer or bulge. At about 11pm-ish we arrived a town called Katsina-Ala. He finally answered and explained we would be camping at Katsina-Ala for two reasons:
- There was a 6pm-6am curfew in the next state (thanks to a Fulani herdsmen vs. villagers crisis at the time) so we were not allowed to pass through after 6pm. For history sake, the name of the town is Wukari, Taraba state.
- It actually was too late already and Jalingo was still about 5-6 hours away.
A number of us slept on the bus while others got down to book rooms in this “not-very-friendly” looking hotel/guesthouse. Not sure I even really slept at all (the bus wasn’t very comfy plus I had to be at alert o). Thank God for mornings, we got up at 4am, freshened up in some village bathroom-hut style (never gonna forget that scene). We set out to Taraba at 6am.
P.S: The shorter route to Taraba is to fly to Abuja then from Abuja to Yola. From Yola, you get on a two-hour bus thereabout to Jalingo.
We finally arrived…
12:00PM ish We arrived Government College, Jalingo. Not sure I really want to describe my camp-arrival experience to you but here’s a sneak peak: Oversized khaki. A mattress. No bunks. No bathroom, No toilet- shotput was the way. No water (well-fetching stuvzz). Taraba weather was the Hottest everrrrrrr!! I remember always complaining that I drank so much water but I didn’t pee. LoL. I hated the compulsory parade with a passion; But we quickly found solace in Mammy Market- thanks to Aunty Rose and her special indomie.
Only 48 hours and “God what am I doing in Taraba, I want to go back home” ;That was the feeling. That same day I got to hear about the OBS (Orientation Broadcast Service) for the first time. The OBS in summary is like the radio station/media arm of the camp. Anything to escape parade plus I like to talk so… I sharply went to apply for the post of a presenter. It was love at first sight- as soon as the OBS boss set his eyes on me, he knew I was the chosen one. HAHA! That was my deliverance from parade. That also, would be my deliverance, from a horrible Taraba experience.
The OBS-Gurl. That’s who I became. Lots of people didn’t know my name but they knew I was OBS. Hello-Hi-Smile everywhere and oh the perks! Haha! It was so much Love and Favour fall on me!
I’m sometimes fond of making a statement that if I ever find myself anywhere up North, I’ll be good. The statement is 89% true, thanks to Taraba. I made LOTS of friends (some of whom I still keep in touch with till date). To tell you how “deep”, one time I was homeless in Abuja (story for another day), one of my “from Taraba” friends and her family literally saved my LIFE- they took me in.
I got to learn new things, experience diverse perspectives. For the first time in my life, I met people who had never been to Lagos, didn’t even care to ever want to come because they didn’t even like or fancy Lagos. Wow! All my life, I thought Lagos was “it”, like who doesn’t live in Lagos but here I was… You know, Christopher Poindexter was right when he said “You live beneath the lamp of your own judging”. The funny part is that lots of these people actually were more civilised/exposed than the Lagos people dem! LoL
I also never got to pay for anything. My friends were so kind that we ended up eating dinner every-night together on a mat and they paid for it. Breakfast was mostly bread from the general dining (one of the perks of being OBS was that we got the fattest share of the calf. LoL). Lunch also got sorted or paid for somehow. Kai I saved money ehnnn, came back from NYSC with 30billion! LoLL.
If you’ve ever heard me speak some kadan-kadan (little) Hausa, it’s all thanks to Taraba. I had masa for the first time alongside kunun shinkafa. I got to find out aya was called Tiger-nut in English and last-but-least-not, I fell in love in camp (hahaha please don’t probe. Thank you. LoL).
You know it’s amazing how oft-times, the “unplanned, unexpected” moments of our lives end up being the best yet. Taraba taught me that no matter where I find myself, I’ll be fine by 2 things:
- God is with me and I KNOW He is
- I abide in LOVE and choose to enjoy and make the best use of the moment
For the rest of my life, Taraba will always be one of my best life-moments and it’s not because it was a beautiful place, it’s only because we made LOVE happen.
Fast forward to the day I left camp… I WEPT! Oh I cried! Such a beautiful life, I didn’t want it to end; I didn’t want to go!
TARABA 2013. I’ll choose you again, and again!
Roll-Call: Sadiq, Shamagana, Salama, Diwang, Ayomitunde, BJ, Layefa, Bashar, Raj, Ahmad, Shamsuddeen, Mu’ammar, Imma, Uncle Mac, Dan-Fulani, Aunty Rose, Mr Ray, Mr Ben, Mr Clement, Fatima, Ahmed FK,… Thank You! You will always be part of my awesome life-memories.