Posted by Muyiwa Adeyemo | 6 October 2018 | 3,478 times
Early morning drills, the wailing beagle, mammy market, the never-satisfactory food, strict soldiers and platoon activities are not all that define the 21 days of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp for a corps member in Nigeria.
One of the highlights of the course is also the love life, the physics and chemistry of it, that is ever as constant as the camp life.
There is the mechanics of winning the heart of a desired fellow corps member (call her or him a ‘game’) and how soon feelings are developed. And when pieces fall in place and the sizzling elements get heated up, they sometimes cool off with serious bonding and bundling.
Every camp is a cocktail of strangers from different parts of the country. These adults are physically separated from their lovers and spouses for an eternal three weeks. This implies that they will be deprived of sensual pleasure and intimacy with those they love. Many people find this torturous. Fortunately for them (so they believe), relief is right there on the camp ground if they care to explore. It is, therefore, typical for some of these tensed bodies to find sparks of affection at slightest contacts on parade grounds, on food queue, in the market or during lectures.
It could be tempting to think of the orientation camp as a vacation away from one’s love career, to cheat with reckless abandon. The place can be described as an ecosystem of love where new found affections still manage to bud and blossom despite unfriendly circumstances. Many also see it as an adventure that should be enjoyed while it lasts. For them, camp is a getaway that happens once in a lifetime. To grasp the camp scenario, one may imagine it as a wilderness of energetic adults partially let loose. Think Big Brother Nigeria.
Campers have reasons to be confident that they are beyond the surveillance of their original lovers and whatever is done is perceived to be off the books. That doesn’t always include making out, in which case, the next of kin of the persons caught are phoned. Such is the case of a married corps member caught in Plateau State camp last year. Also implicit is the consciousness by everyone that the next person is likely waiting for and will be responsive to the offer of friendship or something more intimate.
Bonding happens easily and quickly in the camp. A day or two after arrival, it is normal to observe the pairing of like terms. In fact, it could start as early as the car park and gain momentum in the course of the journey. Recounting his experience, a former corps member tells of how he “hooked up” with a colleague from the car park despite being in a relationship before setting out for camp. Before posting was done, he already had three new girlfriends two of whom were in relationships before they came to camp. Later on, his younger brother had a similar experience. One of the two girls he travelled with developed interest in him before they arrived camp.
In many camps, the soldiers patrol every quarter to make sure that no one is using buildings or the vegetation as cover for any suspicious act. But the case sometimes is that willing corps members improvise ways out of, perhaps, desperation to defy the constraints. Some have made out in the most unexpected of places especially when their nerves went completely haywire. The soldiers, being humans too, sometimes let down their guards or are induced, one way or the other, to do so.
Sex is not what some people can stay away from for too long. To be fair, the ability to abstain varies from one person to another, which is why three weeks is affordable to some while it feels like three months to some others. For instance, the married female corps member who was caught in Plateau orientation camp confessed to not being able to stay away for long. The dilemma that faces the adventurous Otondo is a serious one: be caught making out and risk dismissal. Or the second option and probably the more reasonable one: to endure till the camp is over and let the outside world play host to the pending drama.
A good number of relationships do not survive the distance created by the service year. Little wonder the orientation experience has been dubbed as a ‘slaughterhouse for relationships’. Any relationship that remains firm after one or both parties return from service deserves laurels. Interestingly, as short as the three weeks may seem, it is a period that some lifetime friendships and relationships are born. Because of our tendency, as social beings, to want to be intimate with the opposite s3x and be gratified by it, love intrigues will never cease to play out in orientation camps.
So, if stories are to be built with love stories from Nigeria, won’t NYSC orientation camps and experiences from the service year be the places to go?
•Excerpted from Tribune report
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