If there is one thing that residents of China’s Hunan Province share with the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria, it is their love for Chili. Pepper, as we love to call it.
Hunan province is well known for its spicy food which is used liberally in many dishes. It is also the birthplace of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and has contributed in no small measure to the founding and growth of China.
Though several persons avoid meals that are spicy, spicy food fans in Hunan province are not only daring, but they also seek for every available opportunity to outdo themselves.
Often, they come together to sit in a vat full of chiles and water and let the capsaicin seep into their skin while they devour some seriously hot peppers.
At a chili competition which held in 2018, Tang Shuaihui was declared the winner after he consumed 50 peppers in roughly one minute.
As a reward for his daring feat, he was rewarded with a 24-karat gold coin. The previous year’s winner only succeeded in eating just 15 chili peppers within a minute.
In case you do not know, this competition was started as a form of a tourism advertisement for the region’s deliciously hot food. Those who came up with the idea believed the competition would bring more interested foreigners to check out the area. They were right!
This is akin to what General Yakubu Gowon had in mind when the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) was created on the 22nd of May 1973 as an avenue for the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of the Nigeria after the Civil War.
For many years, the NYSC scheme succeeded in getting millions of young Nigerians to see beyond their immediate environment while appreciating the diversity of other regions of the country.
On Monday the 24th of May 2021, a bill to discontinue the NYSC scheme passed the first reading at the House of Representatives. According to the sponsor of the bill, the incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country, kidnapping and banditry are some of the reasons why the scheme should be scrapped.
Now, I am thinking, could it be that the scheme has outlived its purpose? Why not revamp the entire scheme rather than scrapping it?
Though I have never been to Hunan Province in Southern China or met Tang Shuaihui who was declared the winner of the chili eating competition in 2018, I have been to Jigawa State where I met great friends and built relationships that I still nurture till date.
It was in Jigawa State that I did my NYSC in 2008.
Written by John Olugbemi