Useless Column: Solja No Like

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Mawuli Zogbenu

Comrades Ahooo’… and the response: ‘Ahoyaaaa’ tells you the zone in which you are. Not a place to joke with oo! How I loved and still love the green uniform with black beret to match. Being a Soldier (adwuma) had been my childhood dream and I wasted no time to join the school’s cadet corps in that ‘village’ secondary school in the Achimota forest.

‘O Zamina mina watiwa..O Zamina mina watiwa…..abele abele…Kumasi Bantama abele ooo…Zamina mina yeeeeeyee abele ooo! This popular military cheer song can easily deceive you to think the best and most comfortable place to be was the military. It smacks of total excitement and team spirit. Well, I proceeded to join a cadet corps again at the Uniborkiti because I wanted to be a soldier at all cost. Reason – I wanted my cousins to fear me and also to have access to a gun with which I can kill some stubborn rats in my area. Dasooorrrr! Wrong intentions, not so?

So after school I got the opportunity to be enlisted after undergoing series of processes including medical examination and started training. In fact at the Military Academy, all I wanted was the green green uniform and camouflage. The one which has now become a fashion for some pastors when they want to attack the devil face to face. At that particular moment my interest is the soldier uniform and nothing else.

Anything short of the green green, I won’t accept. They said Navy and Air Force were also available but I wanted to be a soldier. In fact, I got to know later that they were all the same except that they operate at different environments – navy for sea, air force, in the air, if you don’t know this, please ask Flt Lt somesomething near the Liberation roundabout and of course, Army, those on land. For me, Army is where the feeling is!

Indeed to me the presence of one soldier is equal to that of 100 ordinary persons! Don’t go there!

I was so excited about the way people will be saluting me. I loved to see the mowag, peace-goer vehicles but strangely I never liked seeing guns; neither did I like the sight of blood. I didn’t know why but being a soldier was what mattered to me.

The first day of reporting was the beginning of the rapture. Nothing like welcome address. Everything was hei, hei, hei, kla kla kla, grim, grim, grim, run, run, run, double, double! I started feeling dizzy! Ei, soldier, e be so e dey?

My muscles begun to give signs of being at the wrong place. I was to eat everything hot within seconds. You simply cannot access panaddol extra to ease muscle pains. ‘Oh, why was it that nobody told me about all of this trouble?’, I bemoaned. You are permitted to sleep just like 20 minutes out of 24 hours. Sometimes in the middle of the night, you are asked to come and sing Methodist hymns – this is where I became one though!

I said well, I can manage till we got over so I can become a military officer too.

After 4 days of training, during one of the dawn training sessions, I stealthily went into the bush and succeeded in getting on board a trotro heading for home. Sadly for me, one of the physical instructors was also on board the trotro. This ‘devil’ of an instructor immediately picked me up and prayed over me as if he didn’t know why I had to run away. Casting demons, I pleaded with him to let me go with the excuse that I said I wanted it but now I don’t want it again. Haba why, Na by force? ‘No pain, no gain were his words’ but none of these made me change my mind.

Entering the armed forces is akin to joining a cult – no turning back oo.

My conduct was reported to the Academy’s high ranking officials. That was the beginning of my woes. Every drill that my colleagues were subjected to, I did four times that for my punishment.

So at this stage, it was clear I was no longer a human being but something else. I asked some of my colleagues if they had no regrets and everybody did have one regret or the other apart from one lady from Legon Medical School. I remember her first name very well – Tundraya! I’d never seen a lady doctor that brave and strong! She could carry logs and run with them as though carrying exercise books. Ei. I understand she is a Lt Colonel now on a UN Mission. But for me, I didn’t think I belonged there. I am still a ‘Mr’ and I like it like that. Kai!

I started misbehaving deliberately so they could sack me. Unfortunately for me, these ‘hard-hearted’ training instructors get excited by my bad behaviour and were not perturbed at all.

One Navy don, Zozoworsomething something or something like that had the beard of geyibor. Boyyyyy! This man never smiles. Maybe he is smiling now. Where from this self-imposed curse to become a soldier at all! I kept asking myself.

It got to a point they gave up on me. Their reason was that there was no way I could become a soldier and kill even a fly. I was ‘afraid man’ first class! In fact it got to a point where I have only two options left either to die or run away. Fortunately, my good friend Ahmed, who encouraged me to join had earlier confided in me that he joined the military because of uniform and didn’t mind even if he was not paid. He came to me crying maaaamaa like a kid at this stage. Why? ‘Soldier is not for me’, he lamented. Together we devised a plan to get ourselves injured. I got a sprained ankle that would never heal-I was happy I was withdrawn. He feigned epilepsy and was withdrawn even though medical examinations proved otherwise because he believed it was spiritual. Hmmm!

But I see my mates today some of whom are Majors and Lt Colonels, and I regret for not enduring the pain but it is ok. What kind of work is this – everything hei hei, hei! But one thing still remains with me as part of the discipline from the few days of military training – TIME CONSCIOUSNESS; you can’t spend a night at the military training school and still lose this! Who born dawg!

Me, join Army again? Where? Lailaii! Maybe Sallvation Army…some day!

Indeed as solja no dey like lazy rats like me, may I please have your permission to fall out Sa! Yesa! I take am. In fact I am running away…again! Hahahahahaaaa!

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