Ukemeabasi Esiet

Christian | Nigerian | Student | Photographer | Urbanist

Notes from Sokoto

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Part 1Middle of orientation camp in Wamakko

The NYSC experience so far has helped me appreciate life and the opportunities Lagos has to offer. Downsizing has led to a strangely richer life. It has focused my attention and created space for meditation and reflection – the quiet necessary for thinking about life’s important issues.

I have enjoyed meeting so many Nigerian university graduates, hearing about their work and studies, and hearing so many entrepreneurial ideas. Being sensitive to the fact that crude oil is an unreliable foundation for the Nigerian economy and that we can’t only rely on food imports, one our two people I’ve spoken to so far share my belief that agriculture is both our past and future.

Even the camp itself contains so many examples of business opportunities. This rectangular compound is a small holiday town with its visitors (otondos) and locals (admins, soldiers, and vendors). There’s a mosque, two churches, living quarters and a market. The Mammy Market is a little town to itself with it’s inhabitants providing many necessary goods and services.

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Part 2The day before camp ended

It’s the last day before orientation camp ends and everyone is waiting to find out their Places of Primary Assignment (PPA) or if they got lucky and their requests for redeployment were approved.

In the last days we’ve had a few closing events including the cultural carnival, pageant, cooking competition, and campfire night. I have photos from most of them on Instagram, but I enjoyed the pageant so much that I forgot to take any pictures.

A few people have already begun putting the entrepreneurial skills we’ve gained into practice. One new friend wants to start a small scale food delivery business and another friend and I joked about starting a mobile solar charging station. The mobile portion was my suggestion; with the abundance of sunshine in Sokoto anything is possible.

I really want to be in the central metro area. I’ll definitely visit the outer LGAs, but I know that I’m a city person at heart. I like walking from one activity to the other and capturing scenes of city life. I’m particularly looking forward to navigating the older sections of the city on foot and experiencing all the cultural and religious festivals that Sokoto has to offer.

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Part 3A few days out of camp in Sokoto Central

I’m grateful for finally getting a more permanent place to stay in Sokoto. It’s closer to the center of the city, in a relatively safe neighborhood; the compound is nice, with a good amount of vegetation and open space; and the electricity supply and proximity to medical care is great.

There are some small issues that are getting to me. The fact that I paid for the room and walls to be cleaned and it wasn’t done well (and the people swear they did the work too); the lack of consistent running water; the abundance of mosquitoes; and that my nearest neighbour has left the common areas to be a mess (especially the shared bathroom). Also, getting the place up to speed has thrown my budget off a lot and it’ll take a while to resolve this.

Essentially, my external conditions are really making it challenging to stay as positive and optimistic as I would like.

But, despite all of these challenges I want to have a great year in the NYSC programme and put positive energy into the world.
I’ll definitely keep doing my best to find the silver lining on every cloud.

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This post originally appeared in three parts on my tumblr (1,2,3a,3b,3c).
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This entry was posted on December 10, 2015 by .
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