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Why ex-KDF women are seeking audience with Mama Ngina Kenyatta

Women who were among the first female soldiers to be recruited into KDF have requested to meet Mama Ngina Kenyatta

A collage of Mama Ngina Kenyatta and former army veterans and members of the Females of Valour Association of Kenya

A group of former Kenya Defence Forces soldiers have requested a chance to meet Kenya’s maiden first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta.

Under the umbrella Females of Valour Association of Kenya, the women, which includes Kenya’s first female soldiers have expressed interest to thank Mama Ngina for her hand opening doors for women to join the military.

Appearing during an interview with Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange, the veterans also responded to an age-old military folklore that says she questioned Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta on why there were no women in KDF.

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Jeff should organise for us to go see Mama Ngina and tell her thank you, and have time with her,” Rachel Akello one of the association’s leaders said.

The first cohort of female recruits joined KDF in 1971 and comprised graduates of the National Youth Service.

Initially, women soldiers were not allowed to get married of have children while in service, but years later the rule was abolished, with the military building state-of-the-art maternities for soldiers and their families.

Esther Barmoiben, who joined the military on April 25, 1988, said that she was personally recruited by one of the senior military officials after attending the recruitment exercise.

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To me, it was just that easy. I was the first person to be chosen by the commander, she said this is the person I was looking for,” she said.

However, she would later leave the military after giving birth to her first child, due to the strict rules that were in place.

As for Denis Katana her dream of joining the KDF came true in 1985.

I joined the military on 12th June 1985. I always wanted to be in the military because my late mum used to take us to the showground. I used to see women with nice white skirts,” she recalled.

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Margaret Muthoni was fortunate enough to have joined the military as a mother of three, and proceeded to serve for 33 years.

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