NYSC Journal: Dropping Like Flies on Parade Ground

Today was “special”. It was the swearing in ceremony and we were going to wear our Khakis, hopefully our tailors had done good jobs. One of the Army sergeants would wake only the guys up by 3am. He’d sing with the funniest voice that was very annoying to hear at 3am. The song went like this

“OTONDO WAKE UP E EEH

OTONDO WAKE UP OOH AYA YA BY NUMBER

MAKE UNA GO BRUSH U OHH

MAKE UNA GO BRUSH U AYA YA BY NUMBER

OTONDO GO BATH E EEH

OTONDO GO BATH U AYA YA BY NUMBER”

 

The temperature in camp was something else. Early in the morning and from 7pm it got cold. But in the afternoon, it got hot, but not like Lagos sun where you sweat and melt. Under Kaduna sun you just stand and fry. Your skin will change complexion before your very eyes. I still have a tan to show for my personal deep fry. Favour got tanned worse. She’s really fair and for some reason ended up doing parade throughout camp. Needless to say her skin belonged to two different complexion classes.

By 11am under the hot Kaduna sun, we were standing waiting for a representative of the state governor  An hour passed before the man bothered to show up and a few protocols later he was giving his speech.

Suddenly, I saw some of the Red Cross officials running towards us. Someone had fainted but I couldn’t see much from where I was standing. It didn’t matter because soon the excitement was over.

10 minutes later the Red Cross officials were running again. This time I could see the person who fainted. They picked her up and took her away. Two fainting’s later and the government rep was still speaking. Four people had collapsed right in his front and he didn’t even skip a beat.

There were a group of corpers holding a flag right in front of him and suddenly one of them collapsed. The Red Cross guys came, took her away on a stretcher. Suddenly I saw a girl at the back of the line in that same group fall. There was no one behind her to soften her fall, this girl’s head was surely going to smack the floor when at the last possible second the guy besides her grabbed her hand and may have possibly saved her from a serious injury. It didn’t matter because the rep kept talking.

There were so many instances were people fainted on parade and they were always during afternoon parades when we were under the hot sun.

Towards the end of the camp, my friend Favour came close. She was part of the final guys doing parade for her platoon and it was during the parade competition. They were about to do the salute when according to one of her friends that saw her, Favour began to sort of oscillate back and forth. She was holding her cap up but she was clearly about to collapse. She would raise her hand up and it would shake back down all the while oscillating. Eventually some people noticed and whisked her away.

We laughed about it later because she said she could feel herself collapsing she was just really determined to finish that salute.

While Favour was battling her own collapsing body, elsewhere on the parade ground another lady started whispering to no one in particular. I was told she said “So na like this e dey happen” a few times before she crumpled on the floor.

We were fortunate that we didn’t have any serious health issues in Kaduna campand to be honest the soldiers didn’t really push us hard but I still think parades under sun or under rain for that matter shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The military can do it at their own time and to their own people but when you have a bunch of unfit 20 somethings, 30 somethings and even 40 somethings, its a risk with no reward.

In the mean time, on the parade ground the commander yelled

“LEFT WHEEL!”

 

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