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Kofi Genfi, Soldier

“My hair grows fast, so I grow it out when I’m off duty. I’ve been doing it this way for five years.”


You’re going to Iraq. When do you ship out?
I’m about to go to South Carolina to do training. It’s pretty boring—just briefs and medical exams. And then I go to Pennsylvania for more training and then to Iraq soon after that.

When did you join the Army?
In 2001, right after I turned 18.

Because of 9/11?
No, it was my father’s idea, he signed me up. He told me it was because the Army would pay for school, but I don’t know if that was the real reason. I couldn’t tell him no—I grew up in Ghana until I was 16, and in African culture, you do what your parents tell you to. Now I’m older and I know my rights.

Did you want to go?
No. I’m still upset about it. I think about it all the time. If only he hadn’t, you know? My service time is over in July, and I have to finish my two tours before I can get out. I’ll be a tank driver in Iraq, just like I was in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.

Can you keep that hair when you’re on duty?
No, I have to cut it off. But when I’m wearing my military uniform, I make sure people can still see my style. I iron it real tight with a lot of starch, and it fits better that way. And I get a smaller size so it’s more fashionable.


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