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See Tobi Cohen, first Nigerian woman in the Israeli Army

by Adenike Akindude
See Tobi Cohen, first Nigerian woman in the Israeli Army.dailyfamily.ng

Lieutenant Tobi Cohen, who has a Nigerian mother and an Israeli father but spent most of her life in Nigeria, is the first and only Nigerian woman to be in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

See Tobi Cohen, first Nigerian woman in the Israeli Army.dailyfamily.ng

Lieutenant Tobi Cohen

The young military officer spoke about how she joined the programme that sends people to Israel at the age of 16 all in the bid to join the Army and she has now become one of the best officers in the Israeli Army.

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Lt. Cohen revealed that she has always dreamed of following her father’s footstep after hearing stories about her father serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Her dream has now come to pass.

26-year-old Tobi Cohen grew up with her mother and sisters in Kano state, Northern part of Nigeria.

She narrated her experience while speaking on the website of IDF.

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.”

She continued saying: “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 spoke about how it was not easy for her to adjust to the new life in another country.

She said: “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.”

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