The tension that preceded NYSC Camp was immense. They’ll steal your phone. They’ll steal your charger. They’ll steal your fiancée. They’ll steal your keke napep. They’ll steal your breasts. But when I got there (at Yikpata Camp), I met the direct opposite of the troubling picture painted for me. The only incidences of stealing we heard of were committed at the female hostels. Many a time, people lost their phones while the soldiers flushed us out of our hostels with water, yet the ones who found the phones returned them to the owners. I lost my food ticket once, the person that found it looked for me and returned it. He even asked for my shoe size ’cause he had a pair to give away. Hausas were polite; Igbos were friendly; Yorubas were nice. Only few people were proud, especially among girls who graduated from private universities. The rest of the people who appeared proud weren’t actually proud; they were just trying to sell themselves expensive so that they wouldn’t be cheaply priced. The people that weren’t naturally nice, seeing the atmosphere, I suspect, must have hidden their natures.
My first friend, the gentleman that would eventually happen to be the greatest motivation I would ever record on my writing adventure, met me on the cab to the camp. He bought ice cream for everyone on board. He was humble, courteous, friendly and royal in conduct. He wasn’t the only person nice; others would also buy food for you without having met you before. Girls would spend your money and say thank you with utmost sincerity. Everybody respected everybody. People greeted like they’ve known one another for years. Nobody fought while fetching water. Only the private university guys competed over girlfriends, wasting wines in display of strength. But in the larger sense, people were unexpectedly nice. I learnt at the camp that people could be collectively good, if they don’t have a reason to not be.
In the Emirate City after the camp, I cannot count the number of times people paid my fares on taxis or even gave me lifts to wherever I said I was going, in solidarity to the concept of service to my country, seeing me in NYSC kits. Would a bad person have cared? Where I served, they offered to bring my daily breakfasts and suppers, not accepting the offer was my own choice. Whenever I hear that the world is a wicked place, I just find it hard to jump up and say yes, you see?
A friend, after reading Francis Is Alive sent 10k to me for adverts. According to him, “People need to read this book and know there’s a writer this good”. No, he didn’t do it because he expects anything from me. He did it because he has a good heart and doesn’t want me discouraged. Good people all over the place but a bad eye wouldn’t see goodness in anybody or anything; bad parents wouldn’t preach goodness to their kids. And it’s not the fault of the eye that doesn’t see goodness, is it? Good people are often reluctant to do good, but when bad people unleash one evil, it’s usually so resounding that it destroys a hundred goodnesses done. And then the wrong impression is cast, that bad people outnumber good people, and goodness is doomed. With due respect Sir, you’re wrong!
Have you seen a road accident scene before? You’ll see people leap into muds to help victims they don’t know. They’ll ram axes into iron sheets and pull on glass with bare hands just so they could drag people out of an overturned car. They would yank their shirts off, shout, perspire and bleed, just to save people they don’t know. I understand you’ve never witnessed something like this before, the people in your neighbourhood would rather rob these victims and flee, if they don’t start cutting their body parts off. You’re in the dark part of the world, I’m so sorry, but some other places are illuminated, you see? Nevertheless, the darkness can only consume you and dictate who you’ll be, if you allow it. There are no good people gone bad; there are only bad people found out.
Then my uncle would sit me down and describe how my soul would roast in eternal fire if I do not give my life to Christ. “Uncle, I want to pay my school fees. It remains five tawsan to complete”. Uncle would say he doesn’t have money. But Uncle would have 400 Tawsan Naira apiece to pay for his three kids in Covenant. Uncle would say, “Tunde, you must complete your five times daily prayers o. Tunde, let’s go and pray o.” But Uncle, I need money for my project in school. Ah, I don’t have money o. But the next day, Uncle would buy a laptop for his youngest son to play FIFA Soccer and Mortal Kombat. Indeed, if we judge the rest of the world by how our families, neighbours or relatives are behaviourally configured, we’ll lose hope in humanity and be the darkness ourselves, and we will have been wrong, thinking we can judge the rest of the world by the sample at hand; the world is very large my friend, you may have just found yourself in the dark side of it. Some other places are bright. Be good.
– Lord eBay (and his random ruminations, 2018)