Hello Gentlemen Corp members, ladies and gentlemen, we start the new month with a new book from our SEVHAGE stables; In the days of Alawee, a novella by Kayode Oyero. If you have any idea of NYSC and the thrill, particularly those days on camp, you will relate to this. And relate to it well. You can download the book by clicking HERE.
The book is Oyero’s first public offering and is a memoir styled narrative of the protagonist and joins in the free for download SEVHAGE series which in the past included the ground breaking poetry collection, The Enchanting by Agatha Aduro.
Find below an introduction to In the Days of Alawee by Su’eddie Vershima Agema
The story of Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps scheme is one that remains a treasure for most of the people who have gone through the process. The scheme came to life by Decree No. 24 of 22nd May, 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established ‘with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.’ It was a child of the post-civil war, a means to help integrate the country by having different graduates serve the nations in their respective disciplines in regions other than theirs.
So, once a Nigerian under the age of thirty graduates from a tertiary institution, the person is mobilized by the person’s school and posted by the NYSC to a state in a different region from his/her original state of origin. Once there, there is the three – or in some cases, two – weeks of orientation at the state orientation camp where all members of a batch are inculcated into the values of service while undergoing some para-military training. A lot happens within the service year but for most people, the three-week orientation camp is one of the best times with lots of fun and different activities.
My mind goes back to Jalingo where I had my orientation camp, and to several other parts of Taraba state, which coincidentally is in the same North-Eastern geopolitical zone as Gombe, the state where the lead character was posted. It was three weeks on camp but the weeks were crazy! It was an eternity for lovers, for leaders who found their voices, for friendships that were made, for stories that were started… Indeed, some of this country’s greatest stories have a basis in that camp. The fact that one gets to meet so many people that one might ordinarily not have met, experience new traditions and cultures is simply amazing and opening. A lot of people were coming to that part of the country for the first time and might have never come to such a place if not for NYSC. But it was not always fun, we had a few tragedies; a few people died during service due to different reasons – some were sick, others from accident. In some other places, we heard of Corp members who fell to insurgent bullets and bombs. But this is not the story of my service year…
This is the story of ‘Lawale Ikuopetalojuran, a fresh graduate from the Lagos State University posted to Gombe. The story concentrates on his experiences on camp and the early days after camp, in the Nigerian Christian Corper’s Fellowship family house, which is like a religious community home of the protestant Christian Corp members in a state. We relive the experience of camp with him and meet new friends, view new sights and feel things freshly. The story starts at the end, goes back to the moment before camp and slowly builds back to the place where the whole tale started. While there is a certain sense of chronology to the tale, there isn’t a strict adherence to continuity or experience patterns, and the book in the end comes to be a seeming reading of the diary notes of the narrator – not loyal to overt details or the like.
It is a story that will bring memories to those who have gone through the camp experience, and create a picture for those who haven’t had that good fortune. The story in terms of content and setting resembles Joshua Agbo’s Beyond the Dark Clouds though the lead characters are as apart as can be.
There shall be no spoilers this time. It is left for you to read and get your feel.
In all we do, may the times be kind and life lead us safe.
Su’eddie Vershima Agema
Mbanor, Benue State
17th October, 2016
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Cheers and best wishes!