The lead car ahead of the convoy, a black Land Cruiser blue strobe motivating the cars behind it swerved to the right to overtake the almost algae green lorry ahead of it. Like a snake, the rest of the vehicles followed suit. With our headlights on and in perfect uniformity, we overtook the first lorry and the second lorry of a similar design with a similar “load”. The Lorries belonged to the National Youth Service. I took a quick glance to my left as I scanned the Lorry. I did not expect anything dangerous to come from it, though. However, the fact that its animated passengers were hanging in awkward positions at the rear and front of the lorry attracted my attention. The excitement was probably due to the sight of the three-car convoy that overtook them with some drama, not common on these sides of the planet. I put my eyes back on the road and pressed the gas pedal harder to keep up with the car in front. I did not want to lose formation. A few kilometres later, we overtook another lorry and the passengers were similarly excited about the convoy. We were on our way to a burial ceremony of a former VVIP.
The passengers in the lorry were service men of the famous National Youth Service. Throughout the ceremony while I was minding my own business, I noticed the mode of operation of some of them and I was amazed at the vigour and commitment that was in these young men & women. Some of the time, they were not professional enough, but this was because they had not been well trained & instances I noticed gaps in briefing. For instance, at some point, a man broke out of the crowd and run for the bushes in the middle of the event. They had been given a deterrence role & to maintain law and order. However, the guy just ran past them and they looked on as he beat bush like a scene from The gods Must Be Crazy.
These guys are firm, strong no-nonsense faces, masculine, and sharply dressed in their new design camo and matching boots. The uniform itself complete with sharp berets was intimidating enough. I wouldn’t want to mess around with them. I had an issue with their self-confidence amid all the intimidation by the men in black though, boys in blue and the heavy presence of the military in combat fatigues. They had all the power to restrain, but they did not use it to the best of their abilities. It was as if they were afraid of something. Their team spirit was very high and I really liked that about them.
The climax of their service was at the final resting place when they teamed up with their shovels to do what they do best. Serve without complain. After all had vacated the area, they got down to a quick shovel event that was done within what seemed like the blink of an eye. They raised a cloud of red dust to that effect and after those few minutes, you wouldn’t recognize even a face. It reminded me of my training days when after those mud bathing punishments, one could have the audacity to insult a fellow recruit and run away, because you can hardly recognise a face behind the layer of mud. This was the same case here. You couldn’t recognize anyone. All this time, these happy souls were smiling and cheering each other on as they worked. They still cheered each other up as they dusted themselves from the red soil on their bodies. I watched as they moved to a corner of the compound to finish their quick clean up. You will probably wonder how much time I had to check out these people instead of minding my business.
Later in the evening, I got to myself and started thinking about this unit. Amazing reserve for the country which we have highly underutilized. The National Youth Service has been looked at by many, as a unit of people who didn’t have better opportunities and used it as a last resort to try do something better with their lives. Two decades ago, the NYS was the go to institution as a springboard for the next level in life, be it campus, be it career life and related. My dad’s stories from the NYS leaves me wondering what happened to this great institution. I feel like we can still do more with them. I know from the outside it looks all rosy, nice buses (But why do they carry them in lorries,?) nice painted signature water reservoir, awesome engineering machinery, amazing engineering school… the list is endless. For instance, the security industry needs a lot of “hands” and here is a fresh breed of energetic youths who can be used to facilitate and upgrade service provision, security in our institutions & industry. I have a problem with all the police officers being assigned to the inflated parliament and VIPs as well as anyone who can afford to pay for a Police Officer for Security. Why not equip these youths with the skills necessary to provide protection to the VIPs and others who need it. We can train them to be drivers to drive them and with the discipline inculcated in them ensure that we will see more police officers actually maintaining law and order instead of escorting VIPs. We also need to have more disciplined officers in their various assignments. I look at this from my seat, so in your sector, look around and see what a dedicated, disciplined and motivated team can do. If we were to deploy post NYS personnel trained to act in positions of law and order and other roles, their discipline would ensure that if assigned to the Traffic Department (Most notorious) for instance, bribes on the road will end, the existing policemen will see a need to ACTUALLY SERVE than head out to serve their own interests. I mean, how do you explain the situation at Githurai Roundabout? – Traffic Police officers have parked their cars right under that bridge – because they compromised and they are no longer respected by the matatu crews & the public. Muthaiga Square – Goons harassing Motorbike riders right opposite Muthaiga police Station & right under the noses of around 5 police officers manning the exit from the Super Highway – A few kilometres from the HQ of the DCI. How? It is simply an indiscipline case, a disregard to the court of arms, disrespect of citizenship and the rule of law; a dilution of responsibilities and maybe forgetting what someone is actually meant to be doing at their work station.
If, we empowered the NYS more, picked drivers from their driving school to drive on our roads, as mechanics, your car would be repaired within the time they promised, without actually inflating problems, we would have a little more sanity on the roads, if they served as bodyguards, we would have more police officers, actually protecting the citizens and maintaining law and order, we would have Traffic policemen doing their jobs as they are supposed to be doing them, we would have construction projects taking place in various areas of the country at exemplary standards courtesy of their engineering school. The Nairobi County Government needs fire fighters, Search and rescuers, builders, the list is endless. The engineering school is actually of very high standards and a Research and Development unit should be established and facilitated to actually make this country a better place. I want people actually admiring the NYS just as they admire the KDF, or the Recce Unit. It is possible, We would have students in high school actually looking forward to enlist in the NYS as they await campus. We can motivate them, utilize them, and give them better stipends for the services that they provide for this country. & in return, more people would want to pass through NYS to inculcate those principles of success, persistence, determination and discipline that no other institution can deliver.
Images Courtesy of Star Kenya, & Samrack Media.