CHRISTMAS AND CLASSISM; MY MILITARY BRAT EXPERIENCE.


I recently travelled to my hometown for the holidays. Like I mentioned here, I’m not overly enthusiastic about Christmas but I’ve friends and loved ones who hold it in high regard..so let’s just say a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
The better part of my childhood was spent here. In a small town on the windward side of Mt. Kenya. The place I resided was fondly referred to as the ‘Base’ or ‘Kambi’- a hub for military professionals. I’ve both fond and gross memories of this place!
As a very objective young girl(as I rain praises on myself), I loved and loathed this place in equal measure. Loved it because somehow, within these walls, it always felt so safe, so warm..nothing posed a threat to safety. There was a sense of community. Most people, if not everyone, knew each other. The community was small with housing segregated into;
·         Singles’/‘Koplos’(Corporals)- for young recruits just joining the camp and with no family- at least not in sight. These were situated quite a distance from the main living areas. Small neatly arranged blocks with neat lawns. I never got a chance to actually go into one of them. They were quite popular with hormone-raged teenage girls- many a tale has been told of ‘love’ stories gone wrong in those quarters which were 99% male populated in the ‘90s.
·         ‘Wooden’- like the name suggests, these were built of wood. Small houses by the outlook. There were just three blocks  of them. By the side of a road- they stuck out like a sore thumb.
·         ‘Block Mzee’- this literally translates to ‘old blocks’. These houses were 2-bedroomed mid-sized flats. Most had a sickening pale orange colour, others were awash with light brown, others pale green- I never liked those colours. Their stairways were dark, windows were minimal, shattered easily. The spaces were just right. These belonged to junior officers in the military; corporals and senior privates with small families. Irony was, though, they always had children in the droves. I never quite understood the numbering of these but I know there was Block 1-21, and some numbers were missing e.g. I don’t quite recall a block 11 or 12. Ps..i’ve nothing against block ‘mzee’. In fact, my best friend lived at ‘Block 18’ of those flats.
·         The ‘labour camp’- this were self-contained bed-sitters for constables and their families
·         Married Quarters- these were 3-bedroomed, houses. There were 6 flats in each block and they belonged to mid-level officers; sergeants, Snr. Sergeants, 2nd grade warrant officers. There were 15 of them; block 30-45.
·         ‘Warans’- these was actually ‘warrants’ but what I’ve written there was how everyone pronounced and still pronounces it. Spacious houses for warrant officers. These were close to most amenities; the church, supermarket (AFCO), shops, the dairy, the pool, the barber, the cobbler etc. If you lived anywhere else and had your parents send you, say to the mend a shoe at the cobblers, you always had the chance to stop by the church to say a prayer and hope your Snr. Private dad would rise through the ranks so you could move house to warans and avoid the long trek to the cobblers!
·         ‘K’- I sincerely have no idea what this ‘k’ meant or stood(will ask tomorrow) for but I assume these were for older warrant officers.
·         ‘Officers’- these were maisonettes and bungalows for junior and senior officers who’d begun their service at cadet level. This was also where the ‘Base Commander’ resided.
I think you get the segregation picture without going into too much detail.
I also loved this place because apart from the high security zones and aircrafts which I loved to watch, there were values held or at the very least implied. The many cultures of Kenya were adequately represented and this is partly the reason I’m rather unbothered by tribalism- I’ve mingled with all. Off course stereotypes existed(like a rumour about my Turkana friends mum being a night runner or the Kamba guy called Kwinga who’d bewitch you if you picked fruit from his trees at the labour camp). Also, living in the base somehow molded us into very resilient personalities able to adapt to most situations.

Kids were respectful to their elders(smh..like they had a choice with all the military discipline wafting in the air). Parents other than your own treated you like one of their own. People attended weddings for the food and to give their 2-cents on the bridal parades gowns and pitched tent at funeral wakes to give support to the deceased’s family. Tw’s a like small city, self-contained, to say the least. I loved some of the base rituals such as the bugle call during which the flag was lowered and all were expected to stop their activities and stand at attention..lool.
I loathed(ok, perhaps loathe is a bit too strong) it for many a reason. Sometimes, parent’s had to move from one base to another and this, for a growing girl like me, meant loss of some dear friend’s (off course by then I barely understood seasonality nor longevity of friendships). Also, there was a revocation of base privileges upon reaching certain ages or if your folks left the service which basically meant access to the base to reminisce or reconnect with one’s places of growing up was difficult.

However, the ranks and divisions which ran down right to the kids were my biggest headache. Military classism. It’s almost as if you were always safe ‘within your own ranks’. Wives always breathed a sigh of relief when their husbands were given a promotion which entailed moving house to match your rank. Ranks were(I believe, still are) a serious thing. Today, though, I’ll focus on what they did to my Christmas’.
At Christmas, there’d be annual ball for the parents and a ‘kids party’ for their children.
There would be a kid’s party for each level of the ranks. Nothing bothered me as much as this did. I had friends in all ranks and this just meant I’d not be seeing them at the party if our dads were in different ranks. Also; they wouldn’t get to see my fab ‘princessy’ dress while it still reeked of its new scent or my mini face-lift from the tight pigtails on my head! (Narcissism becomes me).

This was and still is very wrong, if it’s not been amended; we attended school together, went to the same churches, drank milk from the same ‘boma’, played the same games on the weekend, consumed the same supplies(Darn I miss those canned pineapples), received the same healthcare at BMC(base medical centre), went through the same check-point at the ‘main gate’, got our hair braided by the same women, mama Shiro or Mama Munira, or shaven by the same barber etc etc  My friends were a lot of fun and it’s such a pity we never partied together as kids because of conditioned lifestyles imposed by societal ranks.
Ranks are great. We all strive pretty hard to get to the top of our games. Ranks are a responsibility- the higher the rank, the more the responsibility. However, kids are just that, KIDS and it’s pretty irresponsible that we should drag them into those ranks when it comes to things as trivial as parties. Parties are celebrations, meant to draw people closer not segregate them into hierarchies and especially not kids- don’t spoil it for them; they should be let free to be the kids they are especially if living in a community as ‘closed’ as the one I and many others lived in.

Merry Christmas folks. Thanks for keeping me company on the blog.

Xoxo,






The military brat- Kazini Daily!
KAZINI DAILY: CHRISTMAS AND CLASSISM; MY MILITARY BRAT EXPERIENCE.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

CHRISTMAS AND CLASSISM; MY MILITARY BRAT EXPERIENCE.


I recently travelled to my hometown for the holidays. Like I mentioned here, I’m not overly enthusiastic about Christmas but I’ve friends and loved ones who hold it in high regard..so let’s just say a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
The better part of my childhood was spent here. In a small town on the windward side of Mt. Kenya. The place I resided was fondly referred to as the ‘Base’ or ‘Kambi’- a hub for military professionals. I’ve both fond and gross memories of this place!
As a very objective young girl(as I rain praises on myself), I loved and loathed this place in equal measure. Loved it because somehow, within these walls, it always felt so safe, so warm..nothing posed a threat to safety. There was a sense of community. Most people, if not everyone, knew each other. The community was small with housing segregated into;
·         Singles’/‘Koplos’(Corporals)- for young recruits just joining the camp and with no family- at least not in sight. These were situated quite a distance from the main living areas. Small neatly arranged blocks with neat lawns. I never got a chance to actually go into one of them. They were quite popular with hormone-raged teenage girls- many a tale has been told of ‘love’ stories gone wrong in those quarters which were 99% male populated in the ‘90s.
·         ‘Wooden’- like the name suggests, these were built of wood. Small houses by the outlook. There were just three blocks  of them. By the side of a road- they stuck out like a sore thumb.
·         ‘Block Mzee’- this literally translates to ‘old blocks’. These houses were 2-bedroomed mid-sized flats. Most had a sickening pale orange colour, others were awash with light brown, others pale green- I never liked those colours. Their stairways were dark, windows were minimal, shattered easily. The spaces were just right. These belonged to junior officers in the military; corporals and senior privates with small families. Irony was, though, they always had children in the droves. I never quite understood the numbering of these but I know there was Block 1-21, and some numbers were missing e.g. I don’t quite recall a block 11 or 12. Ps..i’ve nothing against block ‘mzee’. In fact, my best friend lived at ‘Block 18’ of those flats.
·         The ‘labour camp’- this were self-contained bed-sitters for constables and their families
·         Married Quarters- these were 3-bedroomed, houses. There were 6 flats in each block and they belonged to mid-level officers; sergeants, Snr. Sergeants, 2nd grade warrant officers. There were 15 of them; block 30-45.
·         ‘Warans’- these was actually ‘warrants’ but what I’ve written there was how everyone pronounced and still pronounces it. Spacious houses for warrant officers. These were close to most amenities; the church, supermarket (AFCO), shops, the dairy, the pool, the barber, the cobbler etc. If you lived anywhere else and had your parents send you, say to the mend a shoe at the cobblers, you always had the chance to stop by the church to say a prayer and hope your Snr. Private dad would rise through the ranks so you could move house to warans and avoid the long trek to the cobblers!
·         ‘K’- I sincerely have no idea what this ‘k’ meant or stood(will ask tomorrow) for but I assume these were for older warrant officers.
·         ‘Officers’- these were maisonettes and bungalows for junior and senior officers who’d begun their service at cadet level. This was also where the ‘Base Commander’ resided.
I think you get the segregation picture without going into too much detail.
I also loved this place because apart from the high security zones and aircrafts which I loved to watch, there were values held or at the very least implied. The many cultures of Kenya were adequately represented and this is partly the reason I’m rather unbothered by tribalism- I’ve mingled with all. Off course stereotypes existed(like a rumour about my Turkana friends mum being a night runner or the Kamba guy called Kwinga who’d bewitch you if you picked fruit from his trees at the labour camp). Also, living in the base somehow molded us into very resilient personalities able to adapt to most situations.

Kids were respectful to their elders(smh..like they had a choice with all the military discipline wafting in the air). Parents other than your own treated you like one of their own. People attended weddings for the food and to give their 2-cents on the bridal parades gowns and pitched tent at funeral wakes to give support to the deceased’s family. Tw’s a like small city, self-contained, to say the least. I loved some of the base rituals such as the bugle call during which the flag was lowered and all were expected to stop their activities and stand at attention..lool.
I loathed(ok, perhaps loathe is a bit too strong) it for many a reason. Sometimes, parent’s had to move from one base to another and this, for a growing girl like me, meant loss of some dear friend’s (off course by then I barely understood seasonality nor longevity of friendships). Also, there was a revocation of base privileges upon reaching certain ages or if your folks left the service which basically meant access to the base to reminisce or reconnect with one’s places of growing up was difficult.

However, the ranks and divisions which ran down right to the kids were my biggest headache. Military classism. It’s almost as if you were always safe ‘within your own ranks’. Wives always breathed a sigh of relief when their husbands were given a promotion which entailed moving house to match your rank. Ranks were(I believe, still are) a serious thing. Today, though, I’ll focus on what they did to my Christmas’.
At Christmas, there’d be annual ball for the parents and a ‘kids party’ for their children.
There would be a kid’s party for each level of the ranks. Nothing bothered me as much as this did. I had friends in all ranks and this just meant I’d not be seeing them at the party if our dads were in different ranks. Also; they wouldn’t get to see my fab ‘princessy’ dress while it still reeked of its new scent or my mini face-lift from the tight pigtails on my head! (Narcissism becomes me).

This was and still is very wrong, if it’s not been amended; we attended school together, went to the same churches, drank milk from the same ‘boma’, played the same games on the weekend, consumed the same supplies(Darn I miss those canned pineapples), received the same healthcare at BMC(base medical centre), went through the same check-point at the ‘main gate’, got our hair braided by the same women, mama Shiro or Mama Munira, or shaven by the same barber etc etc  My friends were a lot of fun and it’s such a pity we never partied together as kids because of conditioned lifestyles imposed by societal ranks.
Ranks are great. We all strive pretty hard to get to the top of our games. Ranks are a responsibility- the higher the rank, the more the responsibility. However, kids are just that, KIDS and it’s pretty irresponsible that we should drag them into those ranks when it comes to things as trivial as parties. Parties are celebrations, meant to draw people closer not segregate them into hierarchies and especially not kids- don’t spoil it for them; they should be let free to be the kids they are especially if living in a community as ‘closed’ as the one I and many others lived in.

Merry Christmas folks. Thanks for keeping me company on the blog.

Xoxo,






The military brat- Kazini Daily!

29 Comments:

At 25 December 2013 at 22:01 , Anonymous naijawife said...

What an interesting read! Thanks for sharing with us!

 
At 25 December 2013 at 22:59 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Ur welcome dear..Happy holidays:-)

 
At 26 December 2013 at 01:15 , Blogger Busola Coutts said...

Interesting post. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for the lovely comment.

Happy Holidays!
http://www.thefashionstirfry.com

 
At 26 December 2013 at 10:59 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thank you Busola:-)

 
At 29 December 2013 at 10:01 , Blogger Coco said...

Dear Roselyn, thank you for sharing your unique childhood memories. You write beautifully by the way. Are you still in contact with some of your childhood friends, given the strict rules? I'm truly impressed by your story, I would love to read more. I'm following you via Gfc and g+, hope we can stay in touch!
Love
Coco et La vie en rose
Coco et La vie en rose on Bloglovin
Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook

 
At 29 December 2013 at 23:55 , Blogger Diana Ashuayem said...

Thanks for visiting.Great post and I agree with you, the higher your ranks, the more the responsibility.

 
At 29 December 2013 at 23:56 , Blogger Marta said...

Hello from Spain: thanks for your visit to my blog dedicated to Barbies. I really like your style. I enjoy reading your childhood memories. Great reflections. I already did a follower of your blog. Keep in touch

 
At 29 December 2013 at 23:58 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 30 December 2013 at 00:00 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thank you Diana- I appreciate:)

 
At 30 December 2013 at 00:02 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...


Thank you for your kind words Vale.
Yes, i'm in touch wt a few of them.
I'll be in touch- ff on G+.
Happy holidays:-)

 
At 30 December 2013 at 00:03 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thank you Marta:)

 
At 31 December 2013 at 16:43 , Blogger Kajsa Josephine Andersen said...

Happy New Year from Norway :)
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

http://kjandersen.org/

 
At 31 December 2013 at 17:42 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Your welcome Josephine:-)

 
At 1 January 2014 at 11:09 , Blogger Coco said...

Happy new year darling!

 
At 2 January 2014 at 14:23 , Blogger Nabia Secret said...

Thanks for share your memories, happy new year!

new post!
http://nabiasecret.blogspot.com.es/2014/01/wearing-blue-burgundy.html

 
At 2 January 2014 at 14:46 , Blogger Coco said...

Thank you for your lovely wishes Roselyn :-)
Love
Coco et La vie en rose
Coco et La vie en rose on Bloglovin
Coco et La vie en rose on Facebook

 
At 2 January 2014 at 18:45 , Blogger Chineze Anigbogu said...

You had fun times. Going back tends to bring the nostalgia on one. Happy New Year dear.

 
At 2 January 2014 at 19:32 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thanks Nabia..splendid new year to u as well:-)

 
At 2 January 2014 at 19:33 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

It truly does..Thanks Inez and have a great year ahead too:-)

 
At 2 January 2014 at 19:34 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thanks too Vale:-)

 
At 2 January 2014 at 19:53 , Blogger Louisa Moje said...

A wonderful write up. Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Latest post 2014:Emerald Flare

Louisa Moje
http://lapassionvoutee.blogspot.com/

 
At 2 January 2014 at 21:29 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thanks Louisa..happy new year to u as well:-)

 
At 4 January 2014 at 00:19 , Blogger dazzy said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing.
Happy new year
Belledazzy.blogspot.com

 
At 4 January 2014 at 20:28 , Blogger Dolce Vita said...

Wow that is so terrible to separate children like that... I don't understand the logic behind that

www.webreaktrends.com

 
At 5 January 2014 at 04:01 , Blogger Twentie n Flirtie said...

Your writing is very detailed and to be able share like that is a gift. Thanks for visiting my blog.ff you via g+ hope we can stay connected.
twentie n flirtie.blogspot.com

 
At 5 January 2014 at 10:10 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thank u..happy new year too:)

 
At 5 January 2014 at 10:11 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Its unfortunate but I guess ranks have become the order of this world. Thanks for stopping by:)

 
At 5 January 2014 at 10:13 , Blogger ROSELYN K said...

Thanks for the compliment:)
ff via G+ too.

 
At 7 January 2014 at 19:52 , Blogger Demilade Aina said...

Lovely post. Thanks for your comment. xx

 

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