Shame of youths who turned up drunk for recruitment into our defence forces
Posted Saturday, August 11 2012 at 19:30
Something that ought to have provoked serious debate, even annoyance happened two weeks ago in Central Kenya.
Sadly there has been neither debate nor anger save for a few uncoordinated comments on the social media. The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) was recruiting servicemen and women in various parts of the country and this region won the gold of shame.
In Limuru, the KDF reported that majority of the youth turned up drunk. In the neighbouring Kikuyu, the KDF said most youth had forged academic certificates. The story was that the youths vanished the moment the first in the queue was nabbed.
Ironically, the region is home to some of the best schools in Kenya including Alliance schools, Mang’u High, Limuru Girls etc in Kiambu. Kikuyu hosts a University of Nairobi campus and the Presbyterian University of Eastern Africa.
It is not the first time alcoholism is being mentioned in the same sentence with Central Kenya. But the reports from the military recruitment give the narrative a new perspective. Now the men and women in the KDF are supposed to protect our borders from external aggression.
They put their lives on the line, like they are doing in southern Somalia, so that the rest of us can live in peace. The military are supposed to be among the fittest men is our society.
Even in the old days when tribes would fight against each other, the strongest men would take up the weapons to defend their kin and kith. Should it then not worry everyone when a community sends drunken youth to the front line, literally?
Those who have interacted with the men and women in our military know that some of the country’s best brains are to be found in the KDF. Today’s warfare, unlike years past, is more mental than physical. It is about neutralising the enemy without necessarily firing a shot.
In Nyeri County, the KDF said only four people were recruited because the rest reported after the 6 am deadline. Were the rest too drunk to stagger to their dream job?
This is a serious statement coming from Central Kenya. This is the same region where women lament that their men have reneged on their conjugal obligation thanks to alcohol. This is the region where nursery schools have closed for lack of children and thousands of youth killed in crime; where jiggers cripple by the thousands. A commentator on social media recently summarised Central Kenya thus: “Jiggers + husband battery + alcoholism + Mungiki + raping old women =?”
Surprisingly, this does not seem to worry the region’s leadership. The one man who shouts from the mountain tops but usually without an audience is Naivasha MP John Mututho, who is not even from the region. Those who should be concerned are more worried about “important things” like ensuring the presidency and power remains in the region.
Mr Mututho seems to be seeing further than his Central colleagues. When he says bars should be closed three days to the General Election, he knows many people from Central will not vote (to keep the presidency) if bars remain open. Just think about it.
A youth is invited to a recruitment that promises a decent job and pay but shows up drunk. Will this same youth bother to go to the polling station to insure someone else’s job and ambitions?
More than worrying about who occupies State House next, the most urgent agenda for any leader from this region should be to fight alcoholism. What use is the presidency when an entire community is drowning itself in alcohol? What satisfaction do leaders get in being the representatives of alcoholics and dejected women?
Someone ought to listen to Mr Mututho. Right now he seems like a mad man shouting in the market place and who has been branded the enemy of business. But to paraphrase Francis Imbuga, when the madness of an entire community disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad. Or is it a case of the gods first making mad those they would destroy?
The writer is a sub-editor with the Sunday Nation, firstname.lastname@example.org