I know I have a gift and it is only right that I share that gift with people around me. On that note, I usually make out time each year to organize professional photography training camps for interested participants all over the country. They all come to Abuja and we enjoy a week of fun photography activities and I share my knowledge and experience with these young aspiring photographers and brilliant minds. As a matter of fact, this year’s camp was the most interesting I have witnessed so far; the people, the laughs, drama and embarrassment. Allow me to take you through this hilarious journey that would always be stuck in my mind.
On the 10th of May 2016, a day before my photography camp kicked off, I received the ‘First Aid’ kit I ordered for. In my mind, I was fully ready for any medical mishap that might happen all week. The set of students in this batch were few, six (6) from Lagos and four (4) in Abuja. The week was not just about pictures but also for bonding with each other. On the evening of 11th of May, the students from Lagos had landed in Abuja safely. With the other four already in Abuja, we all got rooms (including myself) at Top Rank Hotel – Jabi. Six girls and four guys, all between the ages 21 – 27, not a bad batch at all. It was definitely going to be a fun week with these vibrant youths; or at least so I thought.
By 9:00 am on the 12th of May, everyone was gathered into the conference hall in the hotel. I gave a little introduction of myself and what I do, and so did everyone. Generally, everything got off to a good start that day. We visited the some amazing locations and took pictures, I enlightened the students on certain theories involved in lighting and photography. We retreated back to the hotel around 6pm and everyone was tired. A few of the students had headaches and one of the girls mysteriously cut a finger (I still wonder how that happened), the affected students complained to me and I made a statement that almost ruined my entire week “Listen, whatever medical situation you have, come to me. I have a fully stocked first aid box and I can handle everything. No matter what the issue is”. At the time, I felt like Jesus in bible when he ordered the little children to come to him. Well, it was really my duty, considering the fact that I filled all their consent forms saying I would cover all their expenses; make sure they return home in perfect HEALTH, as they had arrived. I opened the first aid box proudly and brought out the Panadol, plasters and the rest of the medical arsenal in the box – I even bragged to the students, “Call me Doctor George from now on”, if only I had known.
Days went by smoothly, up until the 17th of May. After visiting some historic places in Abuja, I arranged for one of the youngest CEOs in the country, to impact the students with some business knowledge. This speaker was no other than Ugonna Nwaeze, the CEO of Abuja’s biggest online supermarket – www.nkataa.com. His excellently delivered presentation lasted about 30 minutes and was over.
It was time for the students to retire to their rooms while I hung out with Ugonna at the bar. It was barely an hour later when two of the female students from the Lagos group walked up to me and asked to see me in private. Ugonna nodded and I escorted the young lady a few meters away to a secluded part of the room. Their words that night will always remain in my head. Bisi was first hesitant before she said the words slowly “Yetunde was too shy to come. So I decided to help. She’s on my period. She said she didn’t expect it to start this week. So she needs Always ultra-normal menstrual pads, with wings. Me, I’m kind of purging; Imodium would be great”. I was stunned!!! I looked confusingly at the other girl and asked her if she needed something too. She gave Bisi a subtle signal and Bisi gave us some space. What was so secretive, I was even scared to listen. She began to speak “Remember how you said we can talk to you about anything and everything? Well, I and my boyfriend in Lagos have been going at it for a while. I’m supposed to be menstruating too like Yetunde, but I haven’t noticed anything. I think I might be pregnant. I don’t know anywhere here in Abuja, it’s late. Is there anywhere you can get me a pregnancy test strip or something”.
I think I slumped and passed out, because the next thing I realized was Ugonna standing over me as I lay on the floor. I looked up at both girls and told them to return to their rooms, promising to get them whatever they needed. Oh yes, I also lied and told them I had low sugar level (God forbid ooh) so I pass out sometimes. Ugonna quite worried, asked me again after they had left what happened. I retold the story exactly the way it happened and I could see Ugonna almost breaking into one of his annoying laughs. I gave him the ‘I’ll punch you’ look, so he straightened his face. “Is that why you fainted? So at this your age and all these years taking pictures, it is menstrual pad and pregnancy that is knocking you out like a baby? My brother, don’t worry. I’ve got your back”. He pulled out his phone and I heard him making an order over the phone for all the things the girls needed, including ‘the pregnancy test strip’. I was shocked, “Nkataa sells drugs too now?” I asked. Ugonna smiled and responded, “Yes we do, drugs for cough and cold, vitamins and supplements, pain relief, sexual health and machines for medical diagnostics. Do you want me to order for condoms and postinor 2 too for your students?” I almost punched him as he ran off with his annoying laughter roaring in the bar of the hotel.
Thirty minutes later, an Nkataa dispatch rider arrived with the drugs and everything. I stopped at Bisi and Yetunde’s room first; handed her the bag with the Imodium tablets and the…..*coughs*. They both smiled and echoed “Thank you Doctor George”….It felt good hearing that. Now, the main problem, I was praying under my breath that she wasn’t pregnant. What will I tell her parents? I knocked on her door softly and she opened almost immediately. I handed her the bag with the strips and read her the instructions. Tomorrow morning felt like judgement day. I was up all night thinking. By 6am the next day, I was at her door already. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that was anxious. She was awake too waiting on me. She entered into the bathroom and ran the test. She walked out with a straight face and said “It’s negative, I’m not pregnant”. I wasn’t going to agree over one test, “go back and do the test five more times”, she gave a queer look but went back. She didn’t come out till like after ten minutes…..I couldn’t read the emotion on her face, her lips began to move and she said – “I’m definitely not pregnant”. It felt like I just won the lottery. I did a little dance and hugged her.
I called Ugonna up immediately and gave him the good news. “Drinks are on me tonight, thank you man and God bless Nkataa”. I just survived the scare of my life. Playing doctor for seven days felt like seven years. I’m officially announcing that I’m putting my training camp on hold till further notice, my liver needs to heal first abeg.
As always, Nkataa saved my reputation another time. All your over-the-counter drugs are available on www.nkataa.com. It is just a click away. Those embarrassing moments asking the pharmacists for condoms and other things have officially ended today. Long live Doctor George Okoro aka The Photographer, LOL!