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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.”

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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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