When I first arrived Oyo town as an NYSC member, I had started to contemplate working my way out of Oyo to a bit more bubbly places and I was so deep in my thoughts that I almost did not notice the young lad who had been trying to get my attention the whole time. I immediately apologised to him, he responded with a grin and said ‘mind if I help with your luggage?’ He looked harmless and at such I let him assist with carrying my luggage. Minutes later, he halted a motorbike (okada) rider to convey me to my final destination which was somewhere in Àwé. As I settled on to the passenger’s seat of the motorbike, my new friend leisurely told me his name, school, course of study and before I could offer him any gifts for being so kind to me, he was gone!
Have you been posted to Oyo town as your Place of Primary Assignment (PPA)?
Exactly how do you feel about it . . . Elated, unhappy or are you just indifferent about the way you feel? Regardless of what your response might be, I am not going to judge you and it is for the sole reason that during the course of my service year, I felt all three emotions at one point in time or another.
There were days when I literally just wanted to pack my belongings, damn whatever the consequence(s) and just leave this town, but then again, the serenity in Afijio, the calm in Atiba, the arability of Oyo West and the blameless beauty that is Oyo East already captured my heart in ways that only those who knew the true story of Jack and Rose on that Titanic ship would fully comprehend.
Coming to Oyo town to render my quota of national service is one too many beautiful experiences wrapped up in a single package and to refuse an opportunity like this one would be to totally pass on 365 days of calculated pleasure because ten years from now, if anyone asked me to enlist the things I loved about my service year, it would only amaze them to find out that this simple yet awakening three letter word ‘Oyo’ would top that list and it would not be as a result of the availability of luxury restaurants, pleasure places or constant electricity supply but for the hospitable and ever willing to assist attitudes of its inhabitants, the traders of the Ajegunle, Akesan and Sabo markets who on stipulated market days, took several turns to ensure that buyers got the best food supplies in their greenest states and at very affordable prices, not forgetting the motorable roads where traffic jams had no place and everyone arrived at their destinations within the estimated arrival time.
A hilarious thing to note on the busy roads of Oyo is that eighty-five percent of the motorbike (okada) riders just have either one or no rear view mirrors at all.
To already existing and prospective corps members, I hope you find your ‘Harrison’ or at least become someone else’s ‘Harrison.’ Harrison was the name of my mystery friend and an undergraduate Electrical/Electronics student of the University of Ibadan who helped unclutter my mind of the ills and regrets I had started to nurse shortly after my arrival before he offered to carry my luggage without even considering how much further I still had to journey. That was the moment I decided to embrace my new home and it dawned on me that ‘home’ simply meant anything or anyone that provided comfort, care, love, peace and happiness of some sort.
Keep in mind that you have found a new home and resolve to leave your mark because in a short time when all is said and done, no matter what you would have achieved during your service year, the quality of your stay here will come down to the quality of your contribution. Make it worth it!