Before coming here, my friends and family had advised me to be very careful: that army people were very tough, and so on and so forth. I thought that only men worked at the army. The first day of class I told the students to introduce themselves. There were four ladies in the class. Some were wearing green uniforms and some blue. The blue ones were for the air forces, as for the others they were for the land forces. The Marine forces didn’t take part in the French class as they were located on the coast, in Mombasa (the second city of Kenya located on the coast; the majority of its inhabitants are muslims due to its trading history with the Arabs).
When asked their profession , I thought they were going to reply that they were military people. But to my surprise some were spies, some secretaries, some teachers, one was a detective… Later my student told me that the Army was a government of itself and most of the professions could be represented… and I was thinking they were going to be fighting at wars…
Entering the army provides them with a good salary. Just a little comparison: the housekeepers or watchmen of my building earn around 9000 Ksh (that’s 90 euros, so the watchmen most probably live in the slums such as Kibera) whereas the next to last cadet earns 44 000 Ksh. The first live in the slums whereas the later can afford to put his children in a private school ; I was told that the government schools go quite often on strike here.
In the department where I work, for instance, all of them are teachers. There is a Centre for higher education that provides, maths, English, geography lessons, communication skills etc…They all have a title: most of them are Majors and they are in their thirties. So if I had joined the army, by now I would be Major Eva!