Now, this is an experience I must share. The Garri processing unit located just adjacent to the new ICT center depending on where you are positioned is an unpainted building riddled with names of various agricultural sciences students who want to be remembered in history. The hearths sit behind the house like dragons who would breathe fire on command. Standing green besides the building is a cashew tree where some lovers go to express their claims. Three supervisors with various distinct principles man the fort. A unit where being late, even for a minute means you might be absent for the whole day.
The first day at the Garri processing unit was an absolutely tedious one. First of all, we were orientated on the rules and regulations of the unit. Believe me, there were a lot of guidelines to follow. That Tuesday, I did things I did not think I could do. First, we sieved cassava flakes, then, we were shown how to fry the flakes. While the smoke from the fireplace made my eyes water like someone having a battle with onions, I was happy to participate. Then, on Wednesday came the big deal; we had actually to sell the Garri we made. I remember making fun of my mates who had been to the unit the previous week when I saw them marketing their product, although I can now say without bias that it was a very educating experience. During the process of marketing the Garri, I met different people. Those who wanted someone to talk to, the ones that came to tease other people (like I had done before) those that actually wanted to purchase Garri in a bid to show us encouragement, as they were amazed at the fact that we made it ourselves. Then on Thursday, we went back to the piggery unit to harvest cassava tubers. That is not totally accurate though; our mates at the unit harvested the cassava tubers while we transported them back to the Garri Processing Unit. Next, we peeled the tubers and then, we were asked to ‘jack’ the tubers (a process of turning the tubers of cassava to mush). Then we had to put the mush in big bags and place them on the hydraulic frame so that pressure would be put on the bags in order to drain the liquid therein containing cyanic acid, a substance toxic to humans.
Please note that all the while we were doing these activities, most of us were anticipating the Eba Day. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about students is the fact that we can turn any situation to suit our advantage. Even though some of us could not stand each other, we all found a point of agreement. Each group member would contribute the sum of #200 to purchase the ingredients. We appointed a committee to be in charge of cooking. What you learn indeed is what you know. On that day, I became familiar with different recipes. I particularly enjoyed eating my Eba with Egusi soup. But while we were making merry and being jolly, someone with evil and nefarious intentions was busy plotting.
A phone went missing, or perhaps, got stolen. When the alarm was raised, I’m sure you can imagine how the Eba and Egusi started to turn in my stomach. If our supervisor could spitfire with how angry he was, we students would have been burnt to ashes. He stated in full confidence that our work in the unit would not be recorded, creating a ripple of tension among us. That weekend, my mind did not rest. While the week had been productive and everything a trainee could wish for, there was an invincible scissors that threatened to sever the fragile thread of success and progress we had made.
By: AbdulWaheed Fatimah (Zahra)