It disturbs us seeing the way some scribblers remain obsessed with the use (or rather, misuse) of the noun “colleague” whenever they’re referring to any two parties! And that, despite our repeated admonitions!
On Page 3 of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist (Fri, May 10 edition), there’s this story, ‘Kigoma’s potential for trade explored’. Now the scribbler, purporting to quote a senior government official underscoring the significance of trade between Tanzanians in Kigoma and citizens of countries across Lake Tanganyika, she writes:
“…boundaries were established by the colonialists, but they should not be a barrier to people to collaborate with their COLLEAGUES in neighbouring countries.”
When you’re a Tanzanian, citizens of other countries are your counterparts, not your colleagues. Colleagues are fellow workers or persons with whom you practice the same profession. That’s why in this column, we refer to fellow scribblers as “our colleagues”. Let’s say it again here: the noun “colleague” isn’t as fluid as Kiswahili’s “mwenzangu”.
And then, our attention was drawn to a Page 2 story of the Sunday, April 14 edition of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet, entitled ‘Zanzibar campaigns to enable children in rural area wear shoes’. The intro reads:
“In efforts to end or minimise the problem of BARE-FOOTING among students in rural areas, a total of 400 NEW SHOES have been donated to nursery and Standard One pupils at Kijini School in Unguja Island.”
Our scribbling colleague from the clove islands has taken too much liberty with Ms Theresa May’s mother tongue by converting barefoot (hyphen not needed) into a verb—barefooting! No way! “Barefoot” is used as an adjective or adverb to mean “without anything on your feet.”
We also consider saying “400 shoes” peculiar, because the reader might assume the learners were each issued with a single shoe! That would be ridiculous, of course! At the logical level, the reader could assume there was a donation of 200 PAIRS of shoes. Now this is our point: talking about shoes will only make sense if you refer to them as “pairs of shoes”; not just “shoes”.
Here’s our attempt to redeem the sentence: “In efforts to make sure no learner in rural areas goes to school BAREFOOT, a total of 400 PAIRS OF SHOES have been donated to nursery and Standard One pupils…”
And on Fri, May 10, the tabloid close to this columnist ran a story from Kampala, entitled, ‘Hand power to youth, Museveni told’, in which the scribbler wrote in Para 8:
“The Constitution was amended in 2017 to scrap the 75 years age limit cap (sic) for presidential candidates to PAVE WAY for Museveni to seek another term...” Pave way? Nope, we say, “pave THE way.”
In Para 9, the scribbler notes: “Mr Museveni has since secured the endorsement of the ruling NRM as the SOUL candidate HEAD of the 2021 elections.” Soul candidate? Never! He has been endorsed as the SOLE candidate, AHEAD (not “head”) of 2021.
Ah, this treacherous language called English!