Lamu miraa chewers miss KDF recruitment slots

Some of the recruits during the exercise in Lamu. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Miraa chewers in Lamu county were in for a shock after many were left out of the ongoing KDF recruitment exercise due to their stained teeth.

The recruitment took place at the Kibaki Grounds in Lamu town and attracted hundreds of young men and women who turned up with hopes of securing a place in the Kenyan army.

Senior Recruiting Officer in charge of Lamu West, Lieutenant Canal Zacharia Burudi, however, said a good number of recruits had to be turned away due to the discoloration of their teeth which he learned was caused by too much chewing of Miraa or Khat.

Speaking at the Kibaki Grounds on Monday,Burudi said there was a need for the county administration and parents to sensitize those dreaming of joining the KDF on the importance of keeping healthy teeth which included completely staying off teeth stainers like miraa.

“You cant imagine how many good recruits we have had to let go due to discolored teeth which we learn is caused by too much miraa chewing.If anyone harbors the dream of joining the army, let them guard their teeth at all cost,” said Burudi.

Another chunk of recruits failed to secure a place in the KDF for being underweight.

Burudi said over 30 recruits out of the more than 200 who turned up were turned away for weighing less than the required weight of 54.5 kilograms for men and 50.0 kilograms for the women.

He also noted that the number of female recruits who turned up for this year’s exercise was lower than that of their male counterparts.

He said only 15 female candidates turned up, a majority of whom were dropped at various stages for failing to meet the required standards.

“Many other candidates weighed less than the set aggregate in kilos.A huge number also failed to meet the required KCSE aggregate grade of a D plain.The turnout was generally low for both genders but female turnout was even lower,” said Burudi.

Burudi noted that cultural beliefs that pin down women were a major contributor to the low turnout of females for this year’s exercise.

“I am aware that the Swahili or Bajuni culture sometimes doesn’t allow women to take part in such exercises. I want to tell the Lamu people that KDF jobs are for everyone. I appeal to them to release their women and allow them take part in recruitment. So far we only have 8 ladies remaining and we fear that the number might reduce even further after the recruits pass through the various stages required,” he said.

Unlike last year where the recruitment totally locked out female recruits,this year’s exercise was open for all genders.