1990s >> 1990 >> no-1036-december-1990

Don’t be a soldier

Despite the odds, Kriss Akabusi has made it. Abandoned by his parents at an early age, first fostered and then brought up in a children’s home, at 16 he was on the streets without home, job or money. That’s when he saw the Army recruitment poster. By joining he was promised adventure and guaranteed clothing, shelter, food and money in his pocket. He didn’t take long to make up his mind; he became a boy soldier.

Kriss got his adventure and his fortune seems made. As soon as his ability to sprint became apparent, army facilities and training were available to him; a successful sportsman is worth a thousand recruiting posters. Nowadays he spends little time square-bashing and is reaping the acclaim and rewards his medals and UK record bring him. His story, of course, is the exception, not the rule. However, it does explain the phenomenon of tearful families every so often bidding farewell to their men going off to fight the wars of their masters. The majority enlisted seeing no further than the propaganda promising high adventure, training, security and good pay. Even combat exercises are portrayed as “grown-up play”.

Armed forces exist to protect the interests of each nation’s capitalist class. To this end members of the armed forces are trained to kill and be killed and will be called upon to do so. They are not employed for the benefit of their health, nor are they given “something for nothing”. If people the world over stopped to think about that before joining up, we would no longer see these tearful scenes on our television screens. While successful, Kriss Akabusi will escape that fate only because he is of greater value to the army as a living example of the life and opportunities they claim to sell. Rambo is fiction: very few would join on a slogan of “Kill or be killed”. A gold medal and world record holder is much more likely to persuade.

Eva Goodman