Tobi Cohen will be the first woman of Nigerian roots serving in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
Ms. Cohen who has risen to the rank of a Lieutenant colonel in the IDF is born of an Israeli father and a Nigerian mother. The young woman was typically raised in Nigeria.
Success sure does have a lot of friends. Nigeria, as seen in the case of Anthony Joshua, is often quick to claim their citizens in the international spotlight. However, Tobi may not be the usual scenario as the successful woman has said she has identified herself to be more Nigerian than Israeli.
She grew up in Kano state where she lived with her mother and sisters.
Tobi’s father was an Israeli army officer. A career path that greatly motivated the young woman at an early age. As a teenager, she dared to make a move towards that dream. She chose to walk in the footsteps of her father.
“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.”
Following the choice of the military career in Israel, Tobi was happy to finally experience a relationship with her Israeli roots. She had heard so much about the place and the military and wanted to have a first-hand experience of them.
“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.”
Tobi Cohen recalls her initial naivety to the new system. According to her, she made a lot of “worthy” mistakes while learning the ropes of the army life. But in all of those, the push was still there.
“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.”
Making it to the IDF was a dream come true for her and her father.
“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.”
Tobi was accepted into the officers’ training course after serving as an operations sergeant. In time she was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant.
As a Deputy Training Officer in Haifa region, Tobi is responsible for guiding 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.
Lt. Tobi Cohen has become a source of motivation for women and girls in Nigeria and beyond.
“It is very touching to be the first woman officer from Nigeria in the IDF.”