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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The next time i post i'll be doing it from a cybercafe. Nope i haven't lost my job yet (Coprpers cannot be fired we're Government children) its just that tonight i leave for Lagos. I haven't been to Lagos since i left home six months ago. I was supposed to leave on saturday but i had to wait to collect my census money(before someone else does so).
Now, i know i'm supposed to be happy and i am but i just can't seem to get rid of these knots in my stomach. I've been away from home far too long. I wonder what i'll find, i wonder what would have changed. Will i find that every thing has changed or will i find that somethings remain the same? I really don't like change and a part of me wishes that i could freeze time and find my home the same as i left it six months ago but i guess that's just wishful thinking.
But a huge part of me is just so happy at the thought of seeing my sisters and my mum again. I have missed them so. I was telling my friend the other day how much i missed my brother . Considering the fact that i haven't spoken to him since i left and the fact that we do not get along well, i truly must miss home.
So tonight i'll be going to Lagos courtsey Bestway Transport Limited my "flight" leaves at nine.
It'll be Goodnite Kaduna and Good morning Lagos. See you in Lagos.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


This piece, writing a letter to my younger self is actually Pilgrimage to self.'s idea. For about a week, i've been wondering what i would say if i was given the oportunity to write a letter to my younger self. As i thought about it, a time in my life came to me and i immediately knew what my letter would be about. Now my letter is not to a much younger me, its to the me of a few years ago
Hi, I know that right now you’re waiting impatiently for your life to “take off” in fact you’re wondering when it will. You feel you’re ready to take the world by storm. Right now, you’re brimming with confidence everything seems to be working just the way you’ve planned it. You feel confident intelligent, wise, savvy, lucky and beautiful. You think everything will work out just the way you’ve always dreamed it. And you can’t understand why you aren’t blooming like everyone your age. However, you have to understand that as a bud tightly bound around a beautiful rose, it’s all for a season and all for a reason.
In your blissful state right now, you probably feel that nothing could possibly go wrong but the winds are getting fierce and a storm is coming you just don’t feel it Slowly but surely a storm is coming and that is the reason your bud has not blossomed. A great storm will come, it will lash out at you, howling and screeching in its great fury, it will bruise your stem, it will bring you to your very knees.
In that time, you will feel ugly and stupid. You will question your faith and even your very existence. All around you will be bleak and dark and it will seem like the morning will never come. Now I hate to burst your bubble girl and I’m not writing all this to scare you. I’m writing it to guide you because in that time you’ll be too confused to think straight because all you’ll feel is your pain.
So first, you have to stop, see and listen. Stop your headlong rush to nowhere and consider your surroundings. Take in everything around you, see and listen to the people around you. In doing so, you might find some necessary provisions for the storm ahead and you might even find that the intensity of the storm coming lessened by what you will come to know.
  • Tie up every loose end. Do what needs to be done NOW not tomorrow. Don't leave things till the last minute. Procrastination truly is the thief of time.
  • Don’t be afraid to be you. Remember first impressions matter but try not to create false impressions.
  • Relationships are meant to be nutured. They are not games or contests between you and him. Cherish what you have and give "him" a chance. When he says "I care, that's when i'm quiet" he really means it. Don't be afraid to give your heart and please when you don't have the right words to say, keep quiet.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the truth to the people you care about. It'll hurt them more if you don't.
  • Don't give up something just because it's hard or you've failed because you just might succeed at your next try.
  • Put your roots deep in God's word. So that you'll be able to stand when the storm comes.
  • Finally remember, the tight rosebud in the midst of blooming roses does not hide an ugly flower rather, knowing that the storm will come, it hides and nutures a beautiful, delicate blossom taking its time to create a masterpiece.
Your Older self

Saturday, April 15, 2006

.............So this is how the census went
Day 1
We got into buruku on day 2 of the census at about 9 a.m. We dropped our things at the Yula guest inn and immediately went in search of the coordinator (we were told that he was at a school which was distribution point for all materials for buruku). We met the coordinator and he immediately assigned us to our different S.A.s I got one S.A. comprising six E.A.s. he informed us that in our absence he had taken the liberty of assigning the different E.A.s to the enumerators and that they were already in the field. Therefore, we had to go to the field to try to locate our individual enumerators. Luckily, one of the enumerators assigned to me was at the school so he offered to show me round my S.A. so I could see the others and get to know them.
Under the hot buruku sun (its hotter here) I went in search of my team. We walked and walked but we could not locate any of them. Therefore, we went back to the school, where I met the seriki of my S.A. waiting to see me so he could lodge his complaint with me. According to him most of the people in his domain had not been counted neither had their houses been numbered. He spoke through an interpreter but his anger was apparent. I slowly began to realize the enormity of the job I had just started. It seemed that most if not all my enumerators could not read the maps correctly and had been doing what they wished. It took me the all day to find them, gather them together, go through the maps one by one, and reassign all of them.
Those that had started enumeration had filled the forms so badly that I had to re-issue new forms . One of them threw a tantrum ( a full fledged feet stamping one) at the prospect of re -enumerating again. I had to psyche her and plead with her before she agreed to do it again. By the time I had waded through the fine mess they had made it was already evening I was hungry, dusty and tired. All I needed was a cold shower, a meal and a bed. I went back to the guest inn and met another drama the supervisors were threatening to riot because the secretary to the district head had not arranged for our feeding and accommodation. He finally showed up at about 7 p.m. full of apologies he psyched us, paid us , arranged for the accommodation and bought us suya.
Then I was finally able to get my Shower, meal and bed (all in that order).

Day 2

How do you divide six E.A.s between five pairs of enumerators? That’s census math for u. I had 10 enumerators (later, I was given an additional 6) three males and seven females and they had to be assigned in pairs. I decided to give the last E.A. to whoever finished first(i didn't tell them though so they wouldn't rebel).
There's a serious shortage of materials. The coordinator has promised to try and get some . So we wait and wait under the sweltering sun. We finally took refuge under a big tree in the school compound (the classrooms are locked). I had to ration the little materials i had. My team kept coming back with all manners of complaints : sufabisor them no let us count them o , sufabisor them no want thumfrint, sufabisor the "porms" is "pinished" and on and on they went.
The heads of the individual e.a.s (they are called mai ungwar) were not left out, they all wanted a piece of the sufabisors : madam ba karatu gida ba karatu( they've not numberd our houses, and weve not been counted) , one even called me inbigilator(invigilator) all day long all we did was talk , pacify and talk some more for them to exercise a little patience. I must have finished all the little hausa i understood. Thank God for interpreters.
Later in the evening as we (supervisors) sat together in front of the guest house as we normally did, some truck drivers came up to us and asked to be enumerated as they didn't know when they would get home. They were from ibadan and it was refreshing talking to them. They made us laugh with the answers they gave. There and then i realised the difference between the average southerner and northerner. For example even though they were uneducated they knew how old they were , they knew their LGA and seemed aware of happenings around them unlike the average buruku man who didn't know his own age.

Day 3
The sun seems to be hotter today. I feel like im in a microwave . I enumerated the district head today. He is uneducated but i hear that he's a billionaire (he's into haulage and has a huge fleet of trucks). He seems intelligent but he is illiterate. His secretary swindles him because he(the secretary) is slightly educated. his billions do not reflect in buruku though. Buruku has only one school (the primary school holds in the mornings and the secondary school holds in the afternoon) , it has only two or three bore holes so most people drink well water or pure water which is brought from town.How sad.
Due to the terribly hot sun i asked the seriki of my E.A. for money so that i could get drinks for the members of my team and he gave me the grand sum of two hundred and thirty naira. All i could get was pure water and biscuits. I decided to do this everyday.

Day 4

On Saturday, which was supposed to be the last day of the census, the coordinator assigned four more e.a.s and four new enumerators to me. Although we had heard rumors that the census might be extended I did not take kindly to the extra workload. I had enough problems already most of my team had not finished enumerating and there were no materials for them to work with. Any way I just had to since every one else had two some even three S.A.s .
I met with the enumerators an old man, two married women (from same husband although only one showed up) and a young guy (probably a school cert holder). And I realized then that I had taken more than I could possibly manage . Of the two teams only the men knew what to do. The woman that showed up could write well and didn’t know how to enumerate (I doubted if she could even read at the time) and the other woman simply did not show up. My God wahala.
I asked the old man how he had been coping and he told me that he normally stood outside while she would go inside ask the questions then come outside to tell him then he in turn would write them down then she would then go back and take their thumbprints. Due to this fact, they had only managed to cover one of their E.A.s.
So I decided to join them to make it faster. We would go in together and she would act as an interpreter. We agreed to start the next day. I became the butt of other supervisors' jokes they even gave me a name (Sufabisor enumerator).

Day 5
I started enumerating the E.A. today and I have been shocked beyond words by what I’ve seen. Just when I think there can’t be any other situation worse than this I’m rudely hit with something much worse. At the first house we entered we met a woman who had given birth thirteen times and only had five boys to show for it. She did not know how old her children were and none of them attended school. Their poverty is evident in their surroundings: mud walls threatening to collapse, dirt floors, and kids with swollen bellies, torn tattered clothing, it almost made me cry.
At the next household the situation was no better A young man probably eighteen or twenty at the most with a young wife probably thirteen or fourteen (they both don’t know their ages so we had to guess) with two children a one year old girl and a two day old baby. Next household was a little better wife was a tailor, she knew how old she was and she could speak English but the husband was a farmer and so ba turenchi (no English) by household five I almost couldn’t control my emotions (anger, wonder, pity ) I had to sit and try to calm my self .
In household five I get the rudest shock of my life. Head of household had five sons; the five sons had one wife each. The wives’ looked like little girls who had been playing with mummy’s makeup. Four of them had one child each. They didn’t know how old they were but I guess their age range was between fourteen and sixteen I was immune to that by now we asked for the wife of the fifth son and they said she was the amariya (New wife) it took a lot of begging by my interpreter before we were allowed to see her . When they brought her out I was shell-shocked she couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve thirteen at best. She looked sickly and when I asked what was wrong they all burst out laughing. My interpreter explained to me that she was pregnant I was stunned. My eyes smarted and for a minute I thought I would loose it right there. Which kind of maniac would have sex with this child? I had to take a minute to compose myself before I could ask her any questions.
The subsequent households were the same as five except for household fourteen where the head of the household had four wives and didn’t know how many children he had ( he had twenty- six, no birth control here) it took like three hours to enumerate his household .
In household fifteen I met a woman had given birth fifteen times but only had three daughters to show for it. Her husband had married three other wives and it seemed to me like she was bitter about it. She looked fifty but she had a one-year-old daughter (she was the most beautiful child I had seen in all buruku). Even the squalor of her surroundings did nothing to tarnish her angelic beauty. I ask her mother if she goes to school and she said no. I sat with her mother for a while and try to encourage her to send this beauty to school she grudgingly agrees (probably to get me off her back) and I sowed a brand new pencil into Miriam’s life.
I walked back to the guesthouse, my mind is a riot of emotions and I feel so privileged to have been born in the south.
Day 6

We quickly round up with the last E.A. and just as I’m about to say thank God its over I get another terrible shock at the last two houses. For the first time in my whole life, I see a child that has kwashiorkor. It’s a terrible sight. His mother’s mother was taking care of him. We asked her if he has been taken to the hospital but she says babu (no). What have you been giving him then? We asked and she answered mastina (maltina) and alheri (Ugwu).
Once again I leave the household with my mouth hanging open and my mind reeling.
As we made our way back we (he two enumerators and I), got talking the lady told me that poverty , ignorance and a terrible culture was the reason for all these things. So I asked why the district head doesn’t do something about it and she replies “the man is not educated so how can he know the benefits of education” I didn’t have any answer to that one.

Day 7

Corrections, Corrections, and more Corrections

All E.A.s have been covered (most of it anyway) and most of the enumerators have started submitting their documents. The mistakes are enormous; one enumerator (not mine) actually forgot to take thumbprints. When his supervisor brought it to his attention he went Ina zu wa (ill be back) and came back two minutes later this time the form had eight thumbprints (the household had four members) by now the supervisor was yelling and he went back and bingo the members household had increased to eight. He had apparently put his thumbprints in all the spaces and created fictitious names when he realized his mistake. All day I corrected and re corrected only to have them go back and make the same mistake over again.One of my enumerators said to me "madam walahi talahi this work i bery hard she is not easy, the feffle they are not cofrate"and when i laughed at him he said " madam the hausa man is not know how to dippretiate between fee(p),eph(F) and b(v)"
By evening the summary forms looked like rough and dirty.In the end I just collected the forms and hoped for the best. Then I began the extra wahala of signing the forms, while making corrections. I had asked them to write my name , number and initials on the forms to make my job easier but i didn't sleep until it was almost dawn. I must have signed over a thousand forms because I had ten e.a.s my bottom was numb.
Day 8
I woke up late cos i didn't get any sleep until dawn. I arranged the forms according to e.a.s and just as i finshed i heard shouts from outside. We all went out and saw that the sun was slowly loosing its brillance. Then it hit me it was the eclipse!!! i ran inside and grabbed my phone and took some pictures of it as it happened. The people were pointing at the sun and someone said that the school had closed. Though most of the people didn't know what was happening they didn't really panic they just exclaimed allahu akbar (God is great). Someone adviced us to look at it in a bowl of water and it was a magnificient sight. Buruku experienced a near total eclipse (it looked like it was late in the evening ) and im so happy that i experienced it .
In like fifteen minutes it was over and the sun returned to its usual brilliance. I Finally submitted the forms to the coordinator , packed my bags and we left buruku. On the way back even though i was fagged i felt happy. I had experienced the eclipse, i had served my fatherland, and i had had the chance to see how the other half lived.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I wrote this piece on my first night in Buruku town. Hope its not coming too late.

Right now, I’m writing this piece from Yula Guest Inn Buruku, off Lagos road Chikun LGA Kaduna State. Buruku is a hamlet about 30 mins away from Kaduna town itself. Actually it’s a run down place that’s used mostly by prostitutes and their customers (mostly overnight truckers). Now before you go “Buruku??????????????????” I haven’t been banished to the village by NYSC. And in case you were wondering, the answer is one word CENSUS.

Yep, that’s right, the 2006 population and housing census . I’m here as a supervisor. I had the fortune or is it misfortune of being posted here for the exercise. So while my mates got the luxury of staying in Kaduna town I’m here in this hamlet called Buruku.
I wasn’t initially picked to participate in the census only about 500 out of1617 corpers were picked in the whole of kaduna State. Initially I was sad (I’d been seriously considering the extra money to be made) but after a while I got over it and like every one else made plans for myself concerning the holidays. I was going to finish my e-book, rent a couple of movies and generally have a nice time. It was going to be a long lovely weekend for me (Kaduna state towed the FG’s line and only declared Friday and Saturday as stay at home days).
We were only recruited (albeit by force) after the NPC found out that most of the supervisors supposedly recruited for the exercise (with the exception of the corpers ) were stark illiterates the remainder were semi illiterates while some people were non existent. Apparently the NPC officials had fixed the names of their relatives, friends and in some cases totally fictitious names so that they could line their pockets.
After these things had been uncovered and coupled with the FG’s directive that all supervisors should be Corpers and external supervisors only, the NPC enlisted the help of the NYSC in getting as many corps member as possible to participate in the census and act as supervisors.
Trust the NYSC they used brute force to get us to participate. Not that we really would have minded but threatening us with extension of service was going a little too far.
I for example got the news from a friend. She called me on a Wednesday five days after the training started. The conversation went something like ………
Adunni: Hello
Concerned friend: Yetunde!!!!! Come to LEA primary school Maiduguri road right now.
Adunni: Kilode , Ki lo n sele , Se ko si ( what’s wrong, what’s happening, Hope all is well)
CF: o wa o (There's something happening) they say we must participate in this census o !!!!!!!!
Adunni: ehhhhh who?
CF: NYSC, they say that if we don’t participate we might get extension of service

At this point I panicked. Yeepa Who wants an extension? So I asked ………….

Adunni: Okay how do I get there?
CF: Take a bike and come down now now
CF: Come now wo business center ni mo tin pe e (I’m calling from a business center)

I jumped on a bike, got there and was immediately given a letter of release to give my employer. I also made panic calls to other friends of mine who hadn’t heard the news. When we found out that it wasn’t true that missing the exercise would get us an extension, a lot of people including myself were very pissed. We would have jumped at the opportunity (to make extra money) with open arms but threatening us with extension of service was a little too much.
Anyway that was how I got recruited talk about fire engine approach. We were hurriedly trained (2 days as opposed to six or seven days), and posted to various LGAs. I got posted to Chikun LGA and from there I was posted to buruku.

The whole ordeal got me thinking; when will Nigeria learn to do things the right way? When will greed and self interest stop being our motive for doing things? When will Nigeria be able to organize something and everything or at least most of it go smoothly? When ……..
The stuff we went through during the training, the stuff we heard, will shock even the most hardened person. The people qualified for the jobs were not picked, those who managed to be picked attended the training and at the end of it they were told that someone else had collected their id cards and hence their training allowance.

Some people who saw their names on the list attended the training only to find out at the end that a new list of personnel was brought and their names were not on it. On this new list some names appeared as much as four five times. Some people, after going through the hell of collecting id cards and payment clearances found out at the point of payment that someone else had collected their training allowances and signed. Stuff like this just makes me sad and makes me wonder if this country will ever get any better.
With all the so called reforms and all the alleged good stuff that’s been sold to the world by the government, its little things like this that makes one realize just how bad and just how corrupt Nigeria is.
And the people do not help matters at all. We turn on ourselves and start fighting ourselves instead of the people in charge. For example reports from different training locations in Kaduna told of how corpers were threatened by people. Our crime? They were dropped for us. This coming from these uneducated and in most cases stark illiterates was almost too much to bear.

When O!!!!!! when will Nigeria get better? .........................

Well anyways I’m here in Buruku and I’m wondering how this whole exercise will turn out.
Ill keep you posted

Monday, April 03, 2006


It’s been weeks since my first piece Drawing First Blood. I admit to writing that piece with the enthusiasm of a child learning a new game. After that first piece I gradually got into blogoshere (.....mostly by clicking on every link I could find). First of I realized that there were soooooooo many Nigerian bloggers and secondly they were GOOD. At some point I came to the conclusion that once again I had started something without really checking it out. I just saw some two blogs and went hey I can do that and bingo my blog was born.
Now after bragging about it to all and sundry I found out that blogging is actually more serious than I thought. The result? Instant writers block.
I wrote a piece about the Avian flu (me being in Kaduna where the whole show started in Nigeria and all) but I couldn’t bring myself to upload it so I let it go.For a long while I couldn’t even bring myself to write a single line . I contented myself with reading blogs instead especially blogs by Nigerians both men and women but I loved the women more than I loved the men ( I only liked three). They were charming, witty, original, thought provoking, inspiring, crazy and downright funny. Slowly i began to find inspiration from reading their blogs. They all made me realize that I wasn’t crazy and that there were actually people in the world who shared some of my views on things.
Pilgrimagetoself in describing her blog says “Making a different choice gives you the opportunity to live a different life” She couldn’t have said it better. That phrase sums up what my life has been and still is.
So finally I find that I’m able to put pen to paper again, having been inspired by all the lovely Nigerian ladies in the blogoshere.
And what then should my first blog be about? Yes, you guessed right it’s about defining and confronting my fears.
From now on its........................

I feel reborn..................................