Thursday, January 29, 2009


Headlines: C.Sweet Will Be “Removing Head-Dress” For Good in Two Weeks’ Time! (never mind that her fine cap flew out of a bus without her knowledge one fateful day. Sulks). The CD days, as well as Head Count days have come to an end. This here is a brief interview with her, about the ins and outs of serving in Zamfara State. (Loud applause pls)

{Coughs} Good day.
Like you know, most of us posted here wondered, along with our loved ones, about how we would cope in a State shrouded in so much (bad) mystery. A lot of shock, horror and disappointment was translated into fits of rage, victim complexes, disinterest in any news lacking ‘Shari’a’, ‘North-West’ or ‘Redeployment’ themes, occasional “zoning out”, excessive nail-biting, and so on.
But the story is different now.
We’ve tasted eleven months of the State’s tranquility, relatively friendly people, inexpensive living, grains n’ sugarcane fala-fala (good); the heat, mosquitoes and flies(ah! bad); and evil principals that want to deal with you ever so severely for five months(definitely ugly).
The past eleven months have been an experience, wallahi (15 seconds of silence).

Now let’s have a quick look at some of the things They told C.Sweet & Co. about ZM:
They told us: “That place is extremely hot and dry! You go black, you go suffer… in fact you go redeploy if you like yourself!”

And we’re telling you: Yes, it’s hot and it’s dry, and you need to see the dust storms! Ikon Allah! The heat from March to May is truly… and actually, you guys forgot to mention the flies that rule by day and mosquitoes by night. Gaskiya, I’m darker, BUT
I certainly did not suffer. Accomodation was free and spacious, food wasn’t expensive, the place was nice and quiet (the people serving in Gusau have a slightly different story sha).
While it is challenging for very active, hustling people to adapt to a place as laidback as Zamfara, it is unfair to label it ‘The Ultimate Punishment’.
They told us: Ladies to the left; Gents to the right.

And we’re telling you: Well… somewhat.
Shari’a is not strict here, probably because the present Gov. is not that interested in it. Or probably because truly enforcing it would be an expensive venture. Whatever the case, this is what we’ve seen:
-Men and women share the same taxis and buses, though women stay on one side and men stay on the other (ie. collection of like-terms). For example, if you have three women and three men, the three women must sit at the backseat (and oh! the poor man unfortunate enough to be the one seated next to the women!) while the other two sit in front.
-The men are the ones you’d find selling oranges, tomatoes, beans, etc in the market. It is rare to find female traders, and when you do, they’re either old or divorcees (so I’m told). Women come to the market to buy the goods though.
-Men are also responsible for fetching water, farming, etc while their wives are usually indoors with the children.

They told us: “Shaa, Corpers get kudi/allowi barkatai.”

And we’re telling you: No, we don’t.
Corpers were getting a fantastic N10,000 State allowance in the regime of the ’99 – ’03 Governor, His Ex. Ahmed Sani Yerima, but in the regime of the present Gov., His Excellency Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi (MAS), we’re getting seven thousand less.

Eyah, ‘The Difference Is Clear’.

The 07/08 Batch were paid N2,000 till he raised it to N3,000 in our time. Maybe he’ll raise it by another one thousand this year… and maybe it’ll be N5,000 by 2010; N6,000 by 2011… and MORE if he gets re-elected, so let corpers join the Zamfara PR people in raising two fingers up and screaming “MAS Two Terms!” Madalla! (Note: Insider pun. MAS started campaigning for 2011 a year ago. No comment).

They told us: Mosques? Yes. Churches? Um...

And we’re telling you: In Gusau, the State Capital, you can attend First Baptist Church, Living Faith, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Anglican Church, The Kingdom Hall/Family House (Jehovah Witness), and others. Some LGAs also have churches. (In Kotorkoshi, there are two churches- St. Mary’s Anglican Church and a new ECWA church).

They told us: “Girl, get your Ninja gear ready… haha, just joking. But seriously…Be. Very. Careful.”

And we’re telling you: Thank you very much for this advice.
We female corpers have learnt to be very careful around
They are young boys, sent away from home to other States in order to learn how to fend for themselves, and they are usually full of hunger, mischief and an insatiable desire to grope the female body. Our Local Govt. Officers have often advised us to walk with guys because of this.

We have also discovered that tank tops and three-quarter trousers are allowed, but these are likely to attract lewd stares from the men and scalding ones from the women. Conservative clothes are better.

They told us: “Sha, God has a reason for sending you to ZM, so don’t grumble”

It would have been nicer to serve in That-Tek-Company-That-Pays-Well, or That-Secondary-School-With-Parents-You-Can-Get-A-Referral-From, rather than Frustration-Began-Here-Primary-School or No-English-Secondary-School. Yet… we learnt to handle self-pity like exposed 3-day old Viju Milk because:

- We value the power of friendship; ZM has people you can network with too. Seek and you shall find.

- We value the power of correct positive thinking:

“… you can think positively all you like, yet negative things will still happen to you. You will get caught in traffic, you will spill coffee on your new outfit, you will lose a sale, and you will get cheated or be disappointed from time to time…
Being positive is not about creating a positive expectancy through willpower. Rather it’s about taking personal power and raising self-esteem through controlling, not the outcome of an event, but the way you respond to that outcome… it’s about understanding that sometimes you’ll be given a lemon, and positive thinking begins and ends with your initiative in turning that lemon into lemonade.”
- Brian Sher, What Rich People Know & Desperately Want To Keep Secret

And so, in conclusion…

I’ve only had a glance at ZM, and though I will not miss Zamfara State, I will miss the people I met here. Those who offered their friendship from the first instant we met, as well as those who initially didn’t; those who taught me to say no to excessive Golden Morn and Nice biscuit :- ); those who gave me tomatoes, yams, dubino (dates) at giveaway prices just because I could speak Hausa; my fiery Ex-Princi who was dedicated to threatening my fellow bro. Matti and I (I will not miss you, but I stand my ground a lot more because of you. Thank you); my friendly, animated students; those who reminded me of the good sides of making mistakes (onstage and in life generally); the ones who taught me Yoruba, better Hausa, Ibo, a little Kwale; those who persistently blasted me about my shyness; those who made me laugh with a comical stare or silly comment… so many of them who have added value to my life this past year. Most of their reward is in heaven.

The days are numbered for phrases like
“Ajuwaya Babe”
“Banga banga!”
“Gym gym the body”
“Baggas! God punish your Local Govt. Chairman!”
“Eeevil Spirit!”
And of course:

And for our NCCF Ajuwaya Song:
Baba we thank You
For all you have done
We remove head-dress O
Ajuwaya, praise the Lord!

Youth, obey the clarion’s call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the sun or in the rain
With dedication and selflessness
Nigeria’s ours; Nigeria we serve

This reminds me: I learnt one song here. Zamfarans love this song so much; their students sing it most Sundays. It has a pleasant, catchy tune. The chorus:

Rayuwa tana faruwa
Wucewa take
Kamar ba’a yi ba

Life is happening/proceeding
Passing by
(like a river)
As though It never was

(A kind of depressing message but it’s a nice song, really).

Life continues indeed, and it is my time to say fare well to Kotorkoshi/Kwatarkwashi, Bungudu LGA, Zamfara State.

It’s been a good experience.

P.S: In Thousands of Words I’ll be posting some of my ZM pics. Thanks for reading.