The parade ground they say is the center of discipline. As a new recruit in the military, the parade ground is the venue where you are baptised out of your civilian life. It was a Monday morning in October of 1995. I had only resumed to the military school the previous Sunday as a newly admitted JSS 1 boy, so I was still fresh with civilian mentality. To make matters worst, I resumed a week late and have missed the first week’s induction and parades which makes me the newest civilian to be baptised.
I was excited without thinking about what the day holds forth. Together with other boys, dressed in our white vests, blue shorts, white socks, and white canvas shoes we were lined up in threes representing different company’s Alpha- Foxtrot otherwise known as hostels in civilian secondary schools. I was in Alpha company together with my friends Olajide Abiola, Hassan K. Aliyu, and Yusuf Aminu Danja. Our sergeant major was a tall black man from the northeastern part of the country. I read from his name tag bearing “Tumaki Mboh”. I got wondering, In my mind, I was like how can a human being bear the name Tumaki Mboh simply because in Hausa which I speak Tumaki means a sheep and obviously Mboh is the sound it makes. I remember telling my mum about it and she didn’t believe there ever existed such a name.
We were assembled at the company’s assembly point ready to be matched to the parade ground for the day’s activity. Being my first day and missing a week of induction and other activities, I was overwhelmed but still managed to follow the steps of the other boys as we matched from the company lines to the parade ground. Each company had its sergeant major as its instructor. The sergeant major asked us to line up according to our heights and then forming three lines from a single line by taking numbers in threes. I still managed to fit into this initial drill by observing.
On the parade ground, Tumaki moves to the front of the formation and then called us to attention. I staggered but managed without being noticed. Then came another instruction “by the center quick match” still, I followed what the other boys did and matched forth. I was in the front row somewhere in the middle of the formation, we kept matching saying left right left right again and again in some sort of rhymes, which I enjoyed with a smile on my face. From nowhere, Sergeant Tumaki roared “parade halt” while the other boys came to a still I was still enjoying the rhythm of left right and kept matching on. I suddenly realized I was the only one in front and again Tumaki shouted “Dan Fulani, shege agwai”.
I was singled out and spent the whole day practicing quick match and halt with some lashes at repeated mistakes of course!