Many youths who turned up for the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) recruitment at the Kibaki Grounds in Lamu Island Monday were turned away for being underweight.
More than 30 potential recruits out of the more than 200 who showed up for the exercise did not attain the recommended weight of 54.5kg for men and 50kg for women.
Those turned away weighed less than 50kg.
“I couldn’t make it since I weigh 49kg. I have not witnessed any corruption. In fact, the officer in charge started by cautioning those planning to give bribes even before we took part in the exercise. I will eat well and do more exercises,” said Mr Omar Yusuf who was participating in the recruitment for the first time.
FEW FEMALE RECRUITS
According to senior recruiting officer in charge of Lamu West, Lt Col Zacharia Burudi, the number of female recruits who showed up for the exercise this year was lower than that of men.
Mr Burudi said only 15 women turned up for the exercise, two of whom were dropped at an earlier stage because they were underweight while five others were shown the door after they failed to meet other qualifications.
The officer cited academic qualifications and discoloured teeth – majorly caused by miraa chewing on Lamu Island – as some of the biggest challenges they faced during yesterday’s exercise.
He called on the Lamu County government and parents to sensitise the youth on the importance of looking after their teeth and reducing on or completely avoiding miraa in order to be able to access KDF jobs.
“Most of the candidates who turned up for the exercise have low academic qualifications. They failed to meet the required KCSE aggregate grade of a D. We also had to turn away others due to discoloured teeth and some were underweight. We have realised that many Lamu youth engage in miraa chewing. The local administration must come up with programmes to sensitise youth to reduce or avoid chewing miraa since it’s locking them out of KDF slots,” said Mr Burudi.
Generally, the number of youth who turned up for this year’s exercise in Lamu was lower than other years.
Mr Burudi blamed cultural beliefs in Lamu for the low number of female participants.
“I appeal to them to allow their women to take part in recruitment. So far, we only have eight women remaining and we fear that the number might reduce even further after the recruits pass through the various stages required,” he said.
Low turnout was also recorded in Kieni East, Nyeri County, with many youth being locked out due to poor grades.
The recruitment, conducted at Chaka Stadium, started at 8am, relatively later than usual, with only a handful of youth turning up.
Lt Col Stephen Melanyi, the officer in charge of the exercise, said the number of those who showed up was less than what they had anticipated.
He blamed this on low optimism as many youth from the area had been turned down in past exercises.
“We hope the number increases in the coming days,” he said. Nevertheless, many of those who showed up were turned away due to academic qualifications.
At the Nyahururu Stadium in Laikipia County, female candidates left a disappointed lot after only male recruits were picked.
Lt Col Steve Kiago, the senior KDF recruiting officer at the centre, said there were no vacancies for women from Nyahururu Sub-County this year.
“This does not mean that the military does not want female soldiers. You might find us recruiting female candidates at the other stations in the same county,” said Mr Kiago.
Ms Alice Wambui, who had turned up for the exercise expressed her concern noting: “This is the second time I am trying my luck in the military. I unsuccessfully tried last time and I’m almost going past the required age.”
Only four candidates were recruited at the centre.
Additional reporting by Steve Njuguna