Being sent to the North, Kano precisely, for NYSC orientation program was one of my worst nightmares.
I knew what NYSC program was all about but I didn’t think they will send me to North.
You wouldn’t blame me, would you? The insurgency and violence in Nigeria are more predominant in the North than in other parts of the country. So I had every justification to be afraid and dread traveling up North.
Despite the fear, I had to brace up and face the future squarely. The journey to Kano was quite eventful. It was an experience I have come to appreciate.
You can travel by air or by road, depending on your location. For me, it was not so easy going by air because there was no direct flight from Imo to Kano. So I had to opt for a 2 days drive to Kano.
If you overlook the swollen feet, tired eyes, and not to mention, hunger! When you’re making a journey of 2 days, you have to be very careful what goes into your mouth, so you don’t have to go so often and cause a nuisance for the people traveling with you.
There are stops on the road, about four stops depending on the transport company. I had to go with Delta Express, a transport company that conveys people from the East to the North and vice versa.
These buses are quite comfortable, with a functioning air conditioning system, comfortable chairs, and places where you can charge your phones and gadgets! Wow right? Traveling with them kind of helped ease the tension, especially at the night.
I made good use of these stops to ease myself, freshen up, grab a snack and a drink (always do light, for your tummy’s sake), and don’t forget to buy water. It’s important because you could get thirsty at any time and the bus is not going to stop for you to get water. So buy it whenever you get an opportunity.
Another thing you should prepare yourself for is traffic! Especially in Onitsha and Lokoja. The traffic around these areas is something else; It significantly delayed our journey.
Maintain calmness whenever you find yourself in gridlock. Just know that you’ll get through it. There’s no need to become jumpy and uneasy. Having your phone or a book can help with the whole process.
Alternatively, you can engage your neighbor in a nice little chitchat. But be careful, so you don’t go pulling a string or sticking a cord and causing an argument or worst still a fight.
Aside from the traffic, it was a smooth ride till we got to Kaduna in the morning.
We were approached by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The rate of drug abuse and trafficking is high in the North, so they are positioned strategically to curtail the menace.
I can recall, that our bus was searched twice, at different checkpoints. The first time, a young Hausa guy was arrested. A substance was found on him. At the second point, there was nothing found and we continued our journey.
The landmass from Kaduna to Kano is so broad, that it felt like a whole new journey. We made the last stop at Zaria before finally getting to Kano. We took off from Zaria around 2 pm on Tuesday and arrived at the Kano park around 1 pm onW ednesday.
Then finally, journey to the orientation camp, Kusalla dam Karaye around 4 pm Wednesday.
Note that taxi drivers at the park are mostly untrustworthy. Be careful when dealing with them. They’re all out to cheat you once they discover you are new. Make a friend on the bus who can help you bargain in Hausa, so you can get a fair deal.
When you discover you’ve been cheated, don’t argue, don’t insist, just pay your fare and move on. Most of those drivers are under one influence or the other.
Kano state is generally peaceful; People are more accepting of strangers and more religiously tolerant. This is because of the various religious sensitization that had gone on in the past. The people are now more open to strangers and are eager to help despite the language barrier.
Although they will not condone indecent dressing. Always remember to cover up. You might find the women likable, as they’re ready to help you. There are, however, individual differences as with any other tribe and people but the majority are peace-loving people and believe that whatever you do to a stranger attracts a cause.
Do you know that Kano is one of the safest cities in Northern Nigeria? It is indeed a beautiful city. Its metropolis is well organized and properly mapped out. I must confess, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. So organized and well detailed.
Unlike in the East where you can establish anything, wherever you want. In Kano, you can’t. There are places mapped out for industrial activities. Thereby keeping the city clean and organized. The culture and language are a little different from what I’m used to. But I hoped to fully understand it with time.
Another striking observation about the city is that the people are so content with what little they have. I’ve lived all my life in the East and I can tell you that we don’t ever settle for less. If there’s more, we’ll go for it, no matter what it costs. But on getting here, the reverse is the case. The people are nomads mostly and they’re just comfortable doing that. Once it’s enough to eat for the day, they’re good to go.
There’s nothing really to be afraid of when journeying to Kano. Once you’ve gone past the dangers on the road, then you are good to go. Just abide by the rules and live a respectable life.