In another Man’s land

The Introduction (Episode One)

White chalk residue still on my hands, I return home, tired from my class teacher job. I had beaten those troublesome pupils with my last ounce of energy. I try to get two hours of sleep. Evangelism is by 4 pm.  I’ve not had any experience of that in this highly spiritual place. This could be the first physical faceoff to a dark spiritual power in a human being.

“Family houuuuuuse!” I heard the annoying jingle jangle of the tambourine from my sleep. It was time for evangelism. The NCCF family house was my home in Benue State. In the mornings, I went to a school to teach almost a hundred pupils in a cramped class and returned there to lay my head. I worked like an elephant but got thrown peanuts every month. The boss usually frowned as he handed over what they felt was just for the two-man job a person did. I was a corper anyway.

An NYSC corp member in another land
A Corp member in an unfamiliar land. Image generated from Bing AI

Tired, I dressed up for the brief and we dispersed in twos, our hearts beating fast in anticipation of the uncertainty of the next hour. My partner, Gideon was from my platoon in the Wannune camp. It was a land of parades, and beagles, and hopes of relocating to another state had people on their wit’s end. To pass the time, we had conversations that made us feel a little more than soldiers’ puppets. We talked about religion, trusting in God and obeying him for something you weren’t sure about. From the tight schedule of the camp, these were discussions that could only happen while watching football or volleyball matches between the platoons in the evenings.

From day one when the earliest platoon 7 members met our platoon officer, while checking through our documents, my being from UI had piqued the platoon officer’s interest and she was impressed by something as little as my handwriting. She called it attention to detail. As though filled with the Holy Spirit, she had begun prophesying there and then.

“God will favour you, there’s a reason why you’re in Benue State. You know, there’s no way you would not make it in this life,” Mummy Maria was filled with so much energy that the hairs on my skin were raised. I hardly heard anything she said, as my chair was a distance from her table, but I knew when someone was under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Just minutes earlier, while opening the bank account where my 33k allawee would be dropped each month, I had been overwhelmed. Everywhere I turned, everyone was taking drastic steps and spending thousands of naira to secure their relocation to another state.

I couldn’t help but remember how before registering for the service year, my dad reminded me how I once told him that I liked Plateau State. A favorite artist of mine lived there and I had hoped I could get to meet him. Dad wanted to work a sure direct posting. Security issues in the country were getting worse and any sane person would jump on that opportunity. I had refused, playing the “God-said” card. It was the trump card that ended differing opinions when decisions had to be made. What’s more, it was trustworthy.

However, with all I had seen of the state from the hills of Wannune, if I had a will of my own, I’d be pulling strings that would relocate me to Lagos, Abuja, or Plateau state. It looked like I had made a bad decision by letting God do his thing.

After the prophesying episode with some platoon 7 members present, I was known to a few as the girl from UI, and it didn’t matter if I strutted in late for the social night, after getting chased by the soldiers from the hostel, I could always get someone who would volunteer to find me a seat while other latecomers stood at the back for the two hours.

“Who should we talk to first?” Gideon asked as we walked on the road. After many relocation trials, he found himself back in Benue, and coincidentally in my local government. We ended up talking to two people who sat outside a container kiosk, evangelising. According to Gideon, it was better to talk to those seated. But, halfway into the conversation, the one he was focused on left for a quick business with someone who appeared on a motorbike.

After collecting these strangers’ details, I looked at this expanse of brown sandy soil, dust everywhere, as everyone went about their businesses. The mechanics at their site had black engine oil soil instead and they were at the least of the day’s activities.

sandy soil city-village that a NYSC corper is surveying

Then, we stand in the road, looking across some rough-looking men under a tent just across the street. A fair-complexioned man was spitting smoke like some water-soaked wood in the fire from his cheap lit cigarette. I wondered if I wanted to say a thing or two to someone like him when Gideon said, “These people need Jesus the most.” I sighed and walked gingerly into that tent of corrugated sheets and wood. I thought we were to face these people together but, I found myself talking to this man with a lit cigarette alone. Gideon had left me to my devices. I really want to call him a traitor but I won’t.

As usual, if you’re on evangelism, the first thing to do is ask for their permission to talk about God to them. I wasn’t yet talking when the man asked if he could marry me. I was not shocked. It was pretty much a normal thing. I do not remember how I circumvented the question, but he wanted to be accommodating and asked if he had to put out his cigarette.

“You don’t have to, by the time I start talking to you, you will,” I said boldly. That spirit that usually comes upon people when they do what God wants them to do was already upon me, and I think I told a pretty good story. As I told the story, I watched as this man put out the light on his cigarette. I was glad that I would stop inhaling the cigarette fumes with him.

How God go like am say I dey date one woman, dump am, dey date another one?” Mr Ifeanyi asked, stomping the cigarette with his foot.

Like a child, Mr Ifeanyi listened to my half-baked pidgin laced with big grammar I had tried my best to deconstruct, with constant interjections of “Shey you understand wetin I dey tok?” I asked Mr Ifeanyi questions that he could relate to. His answers answered his questions, and I liked the progression of our conversation.


During the conversation, He said he liked listening to God’s word but he doesn’t have anyone to tell him just like I did. I laughed. He was trying to be sleek. He tried, but that was never reason enough to get someone to marry you.

Just dey go church now, them go talk the word of God for you there.”

“Which church you dey go?”

I dey go winners wey dey that junction, but you fit go anyone you like, them go tell you the word of God wella.”

He no go go anywhere!” One of the other men under the tent interjected strongly. I gave him the “so you were listening” look.

Na him be the head of the oracle in his village, he cannot do what he is saying.” He said, dropping the plier in his hands.

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