Sunrise, Sky, Sunset, Nature, Sun.

How I Joined the Military Part IV – College Day 1

Previously,
By now, I am thinking to myself that I am the most intelligent recruit these people will make out of me. Sitting here among all these people and all I could think of was how I had sneaked out of home, and went in pursuit of my dream… Making it easier for my parents who would have struggled to send me to Aviation College or Flying School for that matter. No. I was the impatient one but I still thought I was the one who was niftier at this.
… I was brought back to my senses by the loud “Songa Blal” mna bahati sana bado wakurugenzi wanawachungulia pale, ngojeni waende kazi ianze.
“Move you ***” You are all lucky the vips are still around checking on you there, the moment they leave… you will see.
By Wakurugenzi, this meant the team that had us from our districts. These soldiers had recruited us into the services. They were still in charge of us and it was their responsibility that we all arrived in one piece and were enlisted. Enlisting is quite a lengthy and tough process I came to realize. Getting a calling letter is nothing close to the main thing.
My friend Ben had been glowering in one direction for quite a long time and I spontaneously moved my head in that direction… Oh my God! I have never seen such a beautiful woman. She was a Somali lady in their long dress outfit, but you could still see the curves that were complemented by the modern buibuis they are wearing nowadays. (I know I am not the only one who has noted this – I may be wrong, call me a pervert but they do show more curves nowadays than the buibuis before) Her hair reached her waist and was too black to be real… We were like okay, this is going to be nice… Already the urges had started rising. Clearly
One of the instructors with some beautiful three colored shoulder taps* Barked “Wanaume hizi vitu mtatamani mtakufa” “Men these things you will covet till you die” “Jig jig sahau miezi tisa nani” “you can forget having sex for the next 9 months…” I was still a virgin so hmmm, did not make much sense to me, but I still imagined myself doing something I would not tell my mother with the Somali girl… I could feel the wetness on my sore ass. It was just an hour and from the look of things, we were going to sit on that dew-laden grass for quite a while…
Then the stories started streaming in. from all corners. There were several categories of stories, there are those that told stories from the things they did in the last weeks before coming to recruits training school (sex escapades). There those that came from the “wajuaji” that told of the things they expected we will be trained on… including strangling people with guitar cable and fish line, shooting targets all day, karate, and blah blah. There were the stories from instructors. These were divided into two. The ones that told the ghastly and torturous experiences that we would be going through and the ones that told us of the interesting bits of being a soldier (The ones from Sudan were exclusively interesting – being caned when found with a woman you haven’t married in bed). The other category was from those “calling letter holders” telling how they got there in the first place. Off course, I would only be interested for an evanescent moment before I would be lost in my fantasies. Air fantasies.
By this time, I had a faint idea of how the Air Force uniform looked like and the only thing I could think of was how good an aeronautical engineer in uniform I would make after my training. By now, I knew I would not be flying for the Air Force, I had already moved a main chess piece in the wrong direction, but I still had one more move. The fantasy of being the one to be approving of every F5 flight that would be attacking enemies and blah blah blah in the future… Interestingly enough in my high school years in the Aviation Class and The Aviation Club, we never discussed F5s… So I did not have an idea of how an F5 looked like. They were kinda too technologically handicapped (Ouch Ouch) as compared with other new age multirole fighters like, F16s, F35s, Sukhois, my alltime favorite the Typhoon (I had to mention that – respect) and etc. that  we used to find soooo fascinating… This was going to be easy, I told myself. I am not going to let the hardships cloud me. All I needed to do was think about planes when times got tough and I would sail through 9 potentially chancy months into a fairy tale.
I was brought to my attention by this tall, deeply scarred in the face and stern Soldier, who I noted missed the middle finger from his left hand in Army Fatigues looking down at me…
“Wee, Raia!… Uko sawa kweli?” (You Civillian, Are you okay really?) I was to figure out later that I was not even a Recruit yet. That is why I was referred to as a civilian. By the way, as much as the term “Raia” is technically correct for people – civilians, it acts at times as a perfect ego booster when a soldier refers to ordinaries as “Raia”. I learnt later that I would continue being a Raia until I received a service number… That is the official operational number of any person enlisted in the forces.
I was like… “eee, Niko sawa” (Yeah. I am okay)
“Hii nafasi umewachia nyanyako akujazie?” (Is this space left for your grandmother to occupy?)
That is when I realized I had been left by like a foot… Yeah… A foot. I was almost asking what difference does it make when I saw some guy being hit a few lines a way. I hurriedly dragged my wet ass along the grass and nudged Ben as I fit my legs by his sides asking him why he couldn’t tell me he was moving forward.
We were to ensure the queues moved slickly as we were registered and counted again and again. This was also done to sift those who had come with fake papers to the college. By fake papers I mean Calling letters. Calling letters are usually white in color with a semi clear “RECRUIT” watermark on it but as time has been going by, there have been clever contrepreneurs who have capitalized in the illegal recruiting industry and they dupe naive Kenyans of several hundreds of thousands of shillings to get into the college. These people end up reporting to the college with weirdly colored calling letters, green, pink, even poorly designed business cards written at the back saying report to Major General So and So… These were gathered at their own corner and it never ended well. The Eldoret Police and the Military police would tolerantly wait for the group to get larger and then they would start investigations later to try establishing the source of the fake letters. Serious charges of paying a bribe awaited them by the way… I don’t know what happened to them by the way.
The military, as well as any other organized organization tries to make things appear in an orderly manner and this is why the lines were in 9 major groups… The provinces referred to as teams. So each team belonged to a certain province and the extra was those who felt they were not fairly eliminated and they went ahead to try out the Nairobi Region Recruitment.
“Hakuna Chai hapa, kwa hivyo kama hukukula ulikotoka, bahati yako mbaya!” a voice barked from the back when someone asked if there was a canteen around. (We do not serve breakfast here, so if you did not have breakfast where you came from, too bad)
After what seemed like an eternity, we were directed to another location inside the college. It was a great relief to get my wet ass off the ground. I had a dull colored trouser that hmmm… nobody would note the wetness, as much as everybody else was wet back there, I was somehow comfortable, I didn’t look like the rest. True to their use of the term “Raia”, we used a temporary entrance along the fence to get into the military camp. Yeah… Civillians do not use the Gate used by soldiers… I am yet to understand that. Anybody who has been to a pass out ceremony can bear witness to this… THE FENCE!!!
The relief when I saw shaded stands all around the tarmacked parade ground… Then like a bomb, shock on me, the queues were directed to the center of the grounds… This was not good. I just could not believe it. From wet grass to already warming up Tarmac and hot sun overhead.

This was going to be tough I figured. Reeeaally Tough.

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