Thursday, November 19, 2015

NYSC Writing Contest: 2nd Prize

Hello everyone,

As mentioned in my last post on my visit to the NYSC camp, I organised a writing contest for Corps members to test their creative juices, get recognition, and also get some little change to spend in mami market :).

If you don't know what mami market is or what the NYSC and the camp are, then you should probably get a copy of my book "Twenty-One Days" and experience it.

Anyway, Corps members were invited to send in their short stories of not more than 300 words, within four days. There was no theme, so they needed to be creative... and their stories needed to be a complete story, and not a prelude or an introduction to another story.

We received tons of entries for the contest, and our judges went through them thoroughly. Although the judges noted that ALL the stories were not really up to par, were not creative, lacked imagination, and needed a lot of improvement, they were still able to pick the top four... they had to, so that the prizes would be awarded.

So here goes:
2nd Prize: Watery Egusi by Tamilore Areola

Tamilore got a copy of Twenty-One Days and 3,000 Naira
Gbemi recited the fact in her mind, incessantly first with disbelief, then humor, and then a vengeful aggression that belied her actual powerlessness over the food that was served.

Watery soup, dirty bathrooms, obnoxious wake up calls at 4:30am by soldiers who spoke a special dialect of English [hut, tow, theeree, prey shun!!]: She didn't understand how the NYSC camp experience could be simultaneously unbearable and thrilling.

Watery Egusi was causing a ruckus. One corper was in tears, lamenting ferociously about how wicked the kitchen staff were for serving her "Maggie and water."

"Shut up! Because of soup you're crying!" the crowd admonished, not appreciating her histrionics. Gbemi didn't appreciate the corper's histrionics either but she was empathetic, the way people with shared experiences are toward one another.

Gbemi studied the tearful corper, all the while remembering watery Egusi soup from the night Bolu returned from boarding school. It was the night before camp. Gbemi had prepared the Egusi specially for him. It was her regular welcome home ritual for him.

In his first year at boarding school, Bolu sent Gbemi a note: "Their Egusi here is wack," he wrote, spelling most of the letters backwards. Gbemi remembered burying her discomfort under her amusement and the resolve to always welcome her younger brother home with non-wack Egusi.

That night before Gbemi went to camp, daddy had called Bolu stupid and lazy for getting mostly Ds in his report, disregarding the As Bolu had attained in math and science. Later that night, Gbemi would find Bolu bent over the toilet bowl in tears, vomiting watery biles of Egusi and Eba.

Recovering from her reverie, she focused her attention on the tearful corper, who was still ranting. The crowd had remained unforgiving.

"Are you a child to be crying because of something as trivial as Egusi?" someone charged.

But there was really no such thing as a trivial reason to cry. All things that led to tears mattered.


What do you think? Please leave your comments... good, bad and ugly, and they will go a long way.

Literarily Yours,


  1. I knew Tamilore briefly in 2018 and was wowed by her commitment to continuous growth and impact. So, this was a soothing read from such a beautiful soul like she was... rest on dear!

    1. Oh, my. I didn’t know she passed. Your comment came as a shock. She attended my writing workshop after camp and I was impressed with her passion to be a writer. We kept in touch until she travelled.

      This is sad, but the Lord knows best.

      Have a lovely day.