This young Army officer is actually the first and only female Nigerian in the Israeli Defence Force and is living her dreams.
While many Nigerians have been bringing disgrace to the country with their criminal and dirty activities in foreign lands, Lt. Tobi Cohen has brought honour to the nation by being the first Nigerian woman to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces [IDF].
The young military officer who has been hailed as one of the best officers in the Army actually has a Nigerian mother and an Israeli father but grew up in Nigeria and sees herself more of a Nigerian than an Israelite.
Speaking on the website of IDF, Lt. Cohen said she grew up with stories of her father who served in the IDF as a soldier and had always dreamed of following in his footsteps, a dream which has come to pass today.
Lt. Cohen explained that in her bid to be enlisted in the army, she joined a programme which sends people to Israel when she was just 16.
Beginning her narration, she said:
“At age 16, I decided that it was my time to make a change. I joined a programme which sends young people to Israel. After one year, I joined a ‘Mechina’ [a pre-military programme] and it was there that I started to feel more connected to the army.”
The 26-year-old Cohen said she grew up in Kano State with her mother and sisters before taking the bold step to move to Israel and join the Army.
Continuing, she said:
“I always wanted to come to Israel ever since I was a small child. I wanted a deeper connection, to understand what Israel is, and not just through stories.
Here in Israel, everyone sees the army as something very ordinary – they simply grow into this reality. For me, it was a far away dream that I wanted to fulfill.
After a few months in the army, I already wanted to become an officer. I know it might sound strange, but I fell in love with the army.”
She said that despite the fact that moving to Israel was a dream come true for her, it was still hard to adjust to the life in another country.
“New immigrants are often embarrassed and ashamed to speak because they may say something wrong and I was one of them but at some point, I realized that I couldn’t go on like this.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way and it was hard, but it was worth it. I learned Hebrew quickly so as to get around and my friends helped me to adjust.
My father was also very happy about my decision to become an officer in the Israeli army since he was also an officer in the Army.
He was just as emotional as I was. For him, it was a dream come true and his being there really helped me. My mother and my entire family attended the officers' graduation ceremony.
It is very touching to be the first woman officer from Nigeria in the IDF. Obviously, I have fallen in love with Israel. This is my home and I see myself continuing my life here."
Before her promotion to the rank of a Lieutenant, Cohen served as an operations sergeant in the Homefront Command and was later accepted into the officers’ training course.
Her duty as a Deputy Training Officer in Haifa region is to guide people on how to act during natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and floods, as well as emergencies such as rocket attacks or the threat of a biological/chemical weapon.
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