Typical day as RDO i/c IK Division

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Typical day by Chris Collman Nigeria XVI 1965-67

What was my typical day like as the Rural Development Officer, in charge of Ikot Ekpene Division, Annang Province, Eastern Region, Nigeria? After the first 4 months, I was usually busy because other Nigerian civil servants gave me lots of leads and projects.

Get up in the morning. Stand under my bucket shower, put on my pressed shirt and shorts (hot irons killed the eggs of insects that liked the wet clothes on the line), eat a breakfast prepared by Fabian Cypril Ibanga. Then it was off to a village in my Mini Moke or later my short wheelbase ragtop Landrover. Sometime I would have company or pick somebody up along the way. There would usually be a series of unofficial and official meetings and tours that might fill up the morning.

A Mini Moke, someplace I have an incountry picture
A Mini Moke, someplace I have an incountry picture

My afternoons varied. I might stop by and visit another PCV at a school, see another village and its leader just to say hello, or do a visual check on a project (usually for show). Or I might head back to the Divisional Office or see some Ministry of Agriculture extension agents or read some files. I would generally return to my house and have dinner. Sometimes I would cage a dinner invitation from another volunteer or eat out. Not every evening, but very often I would walk to one of several bars in Ikot Ekpene or visit people at their house in town. Maybe another PCV would show up with some excuse to leave their post like "My house was invaded by Army ants" or "the motor foot done broke".

A tough day would mean official visits to 2 community farms or one official visit and physical work. Usually the physical work was more symbolic than effective.

Official visits were always arranged in advanced and were based upon the local market week day, spaced a month apart for any given project. The start time was usually vague and in the morning (early for me, late for the village). There might be a brief pre community farm meeting with the extension agent and the leader(s). The meeting itself usually followed an agenda which had been worked out before hand. There could be 30 to 100 people at the meeting. Sometimes family heads would escort me to the community farm for a visit. I always encouraged and accepted an invitation to someone's house for refreshments after the meeting. This was where new business was discussed and questions raised, next steps to be finished by next official meeting were laid out and when the next official meeting date was determined. I found that this worked well for everybody. Sometimes it was a good idea to have an unofficial visit, which might also be scheduled or just sort of happen. In general, an official visit never lasted less than a half day.

There were special official events. For example walking the perimeter of the proposed community farm was a very important event. Often a community farm was placed on the boundary with another village, so it was good practice to make sure the event was very public. There were different types of celebrations, somebody was having a second burial, a festival, a some village party that might require my presence. Sometimes I would be asked to give a speech or sit with Divisional Officer as an advisor.

Only that troublesome Rice Demonstration Project (assigned to me in my second year) might find me back in the same place twice in one week.

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