When my National Youth Service Corps posting letter came out and I saw that I was posted to Katsina state, I burst into some sort of hysterical laughter, you know that kind of
laughter that when you stop, you will just start crying.
The problem was not having to go to Katsina, it was the possibility that I may have to stay there for my entire service year. I mean considering how unsafe Northern Nigeria is at the moment. Anyways, I sucked it up because I had no choice and partly because I was told that I could get instant redeployment due to my physical disability. So, with a rather skeptical mind I packed my bags as if I was getting married and booked a flight straight to Kano…yeah there is no direct flight from Lagos to Katsina.
When I got to the airport in Lagos, my nervousness was somewhat relived as I met some other people going to Katsina from Kano, I quickly attached myself to them, I even met some people I know so, the journey to Kano wasn’t so bad, because I had the assurance that I was not alone.
When we got to Kano we automatically, paired ourselves into groups and took a cab together from the airport to the park, where we then took a bus to Katsina.
The first thing that hit me when I got to the park at Kano was misogyny. I could deal with the dust, the heat but, misogyny was one thing I could not stand.
This was what happened, when we alighted at the park, we were directed to the bus that would take us to Katsina, I wanted to seat in front beside the driver, the thing is, if you have ever travelled by road in a bus in Nigeria, you would know that the bus seats are usually redesigned by the drivers to accommodate more passengers, in other words, two people could sit in front with the driver.
I was tired and finding it pretty difficult to breathe because of the dryness and at the same time I was also trying to guide my box and make sure it enters the bus with me, to avoid stories that touches the heart and sends shivers down the spine. The bus conductor woman was shouting “just enter, sit down , just enter” we were asking how much the transport fare was, but she just kept shouting just enter, just enter, just enter.
Okay o, I tried to seat at the front but this woman would not let me “This is Kano, women don’t sit in front.” it took me a few seconds to comprehend and when I did I could do nothing about it other than sit at the back with the other girls because I was in an unknown land and I could not afford to get left behind but, that did not stop me from speaking my mind though. Like what the hell did she mean by I could not sit in front, the way gender is used to segregate people is just ridiculous, if it has nothing to do with biology then it has no business been separated.
But, apart from that small inconvenience the ride to Katsina was hitch free, the driver was really slow and then we had a little encounter with some cows, and I’m pretty sure we all held our breaths as the driver drove slowly pass them but otherwise, all was well. It took us about four hours to get to Katsina which ordinarily shouldn’t have taken more than two hours.
The real work began when we arrived at the permanent orientation camp. When we alighted at the camp gate, some boys who could not have been more than 12-13 years old, the youngest among them looked at least 8 years old, rushed at us saying “Aunty carry, aunty carry” which meant they wanted to help us carry our bags. I felt a painful tug in my chest and I am not being dramatic here, these dusts covered boys should be in school, not carrying people’s bags for money and they wouldn’t even ask you for money, they would just tell you to give them what you can. I couldn’t bring myself to let them carry my bags o.
So, I dragged my box all the way to the first point of registration but, my sweet conscience did not offer a single helping hand. The box was easy to drag on the tarred road but the distance and my limping did not help at all, by the time I got to where I would collect my mattress (the first registration point) you would think the weight of the word was on my shoulders, the way I was breathing enh…the dry air did not help either as my throat hurt just from breathing.
If you ever have any reason to go that far north, the most important thing you have to do is to stay hydrated, very important.
The camp was big and everywhere seemed far, eventually my conscience gave and I found some boys who helped me carry my box and my mattress to the girls hostel. The boys were much older looking than the ones I met outside or at least this was what helped me sleep that night because, if I had to carry one more thing again that afternoon, my back would definitely have split into two.
Let me tell you about the people I met in Katsina, see…generally, in the west we have this idea of northerners being aggressive and quick to anger especially if you don’t speak their language. I would like to say that, this was not the case, at least for me, it wasn’t.
I met some very good people, one of them was the driver who drove me to Kano from Katsina, he helped me find a hotel in Kano to sleep overnight because my flight back to Lagos was an early one. He also drove me to the airport early in the morning and when I got back to Lagos, he called me to ask how my journey was and to know if I landed safely. I mean isn’t that sweet? Honestly it’s little things like this that restores faith in humanity. Name one Lagos driver, who would drive around the city looking for a hotel without complaining, even Uber drivers would complain, not to mention calling to check up on your customer, that is just wonderful.
The moral lesson is, don’t judge people until you actually have an encounter with them.
My Katsina trip was basically about me walking from one block to another, trying to get my redeployment forms signed so, I didn’t have much time to socialize and meet a lot of people including Buhari’s gorgeous son, (you know that one that had the bike accident) Hen he was not at the camp but, sebi Katsina is Buhari’s state, so you never can tell, can you? Anyway sha, the people I met were really nice people.
This is the summary of my journey to Katsina, you honestly don’t want to know the details of redeployment process- very boring and stressful stuff.
So, will I go back to Katsina? Maybe, maybe not. All I can say is that from my own perspEctive it is not such a bad city. If one day, I go back I would be less nervous and I would definitely take my time to observe and appreciate the city. It would not just be in and out like this one was.
For people who are currently serving and for those who have served what does/did your city feel like?