Camp has been great. I have learned to embrace the fact that this is Naija. So I’ve cast away what I now know to be ridiculous expectations such as believing customer service representatives should be polite, professional and friendly. Or even expecting events to start and end as publicised or that soldiers should speak to you and not scream at you.
On to the business of the day. I have been asked to give an indepth analysis of the foreign versus naija beef I observed. Well, here goes…
Camp, I have learned to appreciate, is new to all not just me who practically went from Jand to the Jungle. I slept only one night on my bed before being shipped off to the camp. Well, the truth is this: this kind of life is strange to everyone/ most people and we are all trying to adapt. This is what Nigerian-trained students (henceforth NTS/Naijas) just don’t get with their Foreign-trained counterparts (henceforth, FTS/Foreigners). The average FTS struggled badly to adapt, some are still struggling as I type whilst most go on with the air of ‘if not because I need to do this in order to work in this country, there is absolutely no way I’d be caught dead here’!
In addition, a lot of FTS have given up on the orientation part of the NYSC scheme and have gone home already. NTS on the other hand, seem to be lapping it all up. They sing in the bathroom whilst FTS practically rush in and rush out whilst saying a quick prayer to the heavenlies that nothing should touch their skins. Naijas would happily sit down applying making up and taking all those back to back, Charlie’s Angels type of photographs. The average foreigner would consider that ‘razz’ no matter how badly they’d like to join in on their insides. Most foreign people act like they just CANNOT be bothered and are barely counting down the days till the prison doors would be opened.
As much as FTS I know would like to shower 5 times a day, most just do it twice and usually carefully calculate the timing to be when there would not be much of a crowd or when the bathroom has just been freshly cleaned. Hence, you might not see them going to the shower much. One FTS was actually asked by her roommate when caught bathing, ‘so you baff? I thought because you have been abroad you don’t baff because all those white people don’t baff’. *speechless*
Most FTS do not eat the freely provided food and would rather eat at Mammy Market. The average foreigner has no idea where his meal ticket is presently and possibly only discovered the location of the kitchen in Week 2. FTS also have this gift of smelling eachother from a distance and roll together. They hardly mix. Trust me!
In addition to all these, a bit of institutional preference/discrimination takes place. Let me expatiate. When it was time to write our names in The Book of Life, foreign students on exeat had a separate procedure and did not have to queue in the hot discomfort that Lagos sun brings. This riled the Naija people so badly as they wondered aloud, ‘why can’t they queue? Whats so special about them? Are they not corpers?’ The Platoon Coordinator kinda rubbed it in by asking them, ‘don’t you know they are international students?’ I felt bad for them. And at that point, any friend you had made in the Naija crew automatically felt hurt when you stood up to jump the queue. It was like a betrayal took place. I didn’t queue. The sun was scorching. Sorry.
Most FTS act ‘pepperless’. They usually don’t join in activities much. Instead, band up together and have a moan. Exeats are dished out to them a bit more easily because they are almost ‘pitied’ for even trying since many many more simply registered and left. So those that actually stay on have ‘tried’.
Awon FTS kan manbi emi gan ninu. So much fake accent in the air, it is almost palpable. Someone who studied in Yankee having a Jand accent and vice versa. The worst kinds are the hybrids who switch to suit theirmoods. Since most NTS cannot tell the difference, fone is fone and they get so irritated.
Most FTS do not wear any NYSC gear except for the compulsory ones. Instead, they rock their Primark and Walmart stuff. They gather together and gist about Jand and Yankee hence, automatically alienating non-FTS participants. NTS on the other hand, tend to have a bit of inferiority complex. They feel they are being made out to seem inferior and they go all out to prove that they are not and that corper na corper.
So which one am I? Well, I tend to mix with all and sundry-the over fone speaking Claire plus Ikemefuna from rural Anambra. I try to find something to engage people in conversation on. Sometimes it works, other times, it looks like you are being patronising so na to move on be dat!
NCCF has been uber amazing! It stands for the Nigerian Christian Fellowship. Its where we hang out and worship from 6-8 everyday. I had Man o’War drills last week. It was fun though I still hurt all over as a consequence. A few corpers’ trousers ripped in the process. I lolled. Here are the pictures.
Thats all civilians (for now)