Why can't yoruba people say Katsina? .. what is kastina? ... why? ... like why?
Soo aaaall my NYSC hands failed me/ I didn't try hard enough or something (tbh it's the latter) and I got posted to Katsina
For those who don't know, NYSC is the National Youth Service Corps. After you graduate from uni you have to serve your country for a year, beginning with a 3 week orientation course in camp (in generally the most horrendous conditions) and for the rest of the year you work preferably in the public sector in whatever state you've been assigned to. NYSC is important because without it a lot of large, multinational companies won't hire you. And if later in life you want to go into politics and run for office you can't without NYSC, so it's always good to do it early, and get it out of the way.
Also it's quite good for graduates because most of us have no idea what we're doing after we graduate. Very few people actually have graduate jobs so it sort of gives you a year to sort yourself out. And you get to meet new people I guess. BUT it is the worst, most stressful thing in the world.
Anyway, I got posted to Katsina which is a smallish state in the north of Nigeria. Hilarious because my dad was like there's no way you're going and I was like errrr BYEEEEE ✌🏾 #roadtrip #wemove #campchronicles #MeerkatTheExplorer
Katsina, the state has about 3 million people (really?) and the capital city (reach) which is also called Katsina has a population of about 300,000 people.
So, Katsina. ... Camp was meant to start on Wednesday 26th of July. I left Abuja in the morning of the 25th, drove down to Kaduna (2.5 hours), had breakfast at Granny's and then drove to Katsina from there (3 hours). Lucky for me, my Grandma also has a house in Katsina (shoutout), so that is where I was staying. Outside major cities in Nigeria, hotels aren't really a thing, so I wouldn't recommend going to KT and looking for a hotel to stay in. Also I have an uncle who is from Katsina (shoutout Uncle Babangida) so he got one of his cousins to follow me to camp and help me sort things out.
Hotel in the middle of nowhere anyone? ... This is how horror films start.
I arrived in Katsina at about 2pm on Tuesday and even though I was tired (why is travelling so tiring, it’s literally sitting in one place for hours.. ?!) I decided to go and explore. My Grandma had told me about this little village on the Niger/Nigeria border where they speak French and somehow acquired baguette making skills. And apparently they make the most amazing baguettes. Amazing baguettes and dusty, northern Nigeria didn’t go together in my head so naturally, I had to go and find out for myself
Great name for a clinic
I noticed that every village along the way had these really well made signs. I found it a bit strange, that money and resources were spent on proper signage and not running water or electricity.. or you know, things that actually improve quality of life. I mean, they have to fetch water from a well in the middle of the village, but at least we know what the village is called 👍. Naij logic on a 💯.
We drove for about an hour to a village on the Nigerian side of the border called Jibia. I could sort of see the French influence in some of the village names, for example miltakwas -1000 (french) and 8 (hausa) village - this excited me more than it should've. Also we passed a car or two with Niger number plates.
Unfortunately the village my Grandma had been talking about was on the Niger side of the border and I was not about to risk crossing over into Niger and getting stuck there so I didn’t get my baguettes 😔.
As we got closer to Niger the landscape got a lot rockier, and greener, which I wasn't expecting. And there were soo many customs, police and army checkpoints along the way. Fair enough.
Also there were more churches in Jibia, whereas in Katsina/ on the way to Katsina, I only noticed mosques. So this got me wondering, because up until this point all the women I had seen had been fully covered in long hijabs. Like there wasn't even one person with just a veil, or a scarf covering their head. All. Fully. Hijab-ed. Even little girls. So was it that I hadn't seen any Christians so far, or that even Christian women wear hijabs in Katsina? 🤔... I need answers
School run - Not sure if Islamiyya or regular school
The next day I got up bright and early to go to camp, register and blag my way out early enough to leave Katsina that same day. Dreams. Didn’t leave camp till like 3 in the afternoon and this was only because someone wrote me a note saying I was married lol. Yeah.. I don’t know how either. But apparently I got married at some point, so obvi I had to leave and be with my husband. I totally looked the part, because I wore my abaya and hijab, as I wasn't trying to stand out for any reason #WheninKT..
I had to come back the next day to try and get re-posted to Abuja. Which meant one more night in Katsina, fun! Went in the next day, and everything went smoothly, pretty much. Made friends with the Camp commandant and he was super helpful. But instead of re-posting me to Abuja they said the best they could do was Nasarawa (always thought there were 2 s's). Fair. I just wanted to leave. Nasarawa is only about an hour outside Abuja I could make it work. I agreed, did what they asked me to do and got out of there.
Soldiers making corpers frog jump for shits and gigs
Drove back to Kaduna, spent the night at Granny's and then got the train to Abuja the next day. Yes, the train. It works! (If you are not Nigerian you probably won’t realise how much of a big deal this is. It’s a massive deal). And it's nice and clean and leaves on time. Plus its soo cheap. I hope the government manages to maintain it because it really helps a lot of people. Travelling by road is so unsafe these days, so a lot of people choose to travel from Abuja to Kaduna by train. Makes so much sense.
So I'm finally back in Abuja after my 4-day sojourn in the north. Typing this from the comfort of my own bed. Stay tuned for more NYSC chronicles ...
Yeah this was meant to be an NYSC post but somehow it turned into a Nigeria Tourism Board post 🙄 #tourism #explorethenorth #don't #ameerkatdidnotsendyou #NoReallyIDidNotSendYou
Oh btw if you want to find out more about what goes on during NYSC camp check out my friend Jola's medium. She is hilarious. She's also a lunatic. She got posted to Cross River state and decided to stay in camp for the whole thing. Don't ask me why, ask Jola.
I also sort of live tweeted the whole bantz here
Have an amazing week
Love, Mira x