Debate ensues over language mistakes in new passports

Thursday December 13 2018


By Mosenda Jacob @TheCitizenTZ

Dar es Salaam. A Facebook post by Prof Joseph Mbele pointing out linguistic errors on page 47 of the new passports has triggered reactions on social media.

The message of the former senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam posted on Monday, pointed out the mistakes and urged for the recalling of the already released passports so that these would be corrected.

He pointed out that even Julius Nyerere’s quote was misquoted.

The misquoted statement, according to Prof Mbele, reads in Swahili: “Sisi tumekwisha uwasha mwenge wa uhuru na kuuweka juu ya Mlima Kilimanjaro. Umulike ndani na nje ya mipaka yetu, ulete tumaini pale ambapo hakuna matumaini, ulete upendo mahali penye chuki na heshima palipo jaa dharau,” Mwl Julius K. Nyerere (09/12/1961.)

Its translation in English reads: “We have lighted the Uhuru torch and ‘place’ [sic] it at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, to shine within and outside our boundaries, to bring hope where there is despair, love where there is hatred and respect where there is contempt”.

According to Prof Mbele, the mistakes were obvious and a shame to the country.

“Yesterday (Sunday) I brought a message to this platform that I have seen a picture of two pages of what might be the new Tanzanian passport. I said that on page 47 I saw English language errors, I concluded that I did not want to say anything to prove that the statement was not fake,” he wrote in his Facebook post.

“Now one person has brought me a picture of the errors in page 47 of the passport. I have verified the mistakes there. It’s too annoying. In short, I just say that these new passports must be destroyed, and then re-printed, even if it will cost trillions of shillings. Even if it is to postpone infrastructural projects or aircraft schemes, so that we can produce an accurate document,” he wrote.

Commenting, Mbaga Karim wrote, “If foreign languages are a problem to us, why should we not use our national language than making such shameful mistakes,” he asked.

When reached for clarification over the phone, Immigration department spokesman Ally Mtanda said: “We haven’t come across such complaints. Please send it to me so I can share with my bosses and we’ll be able to respond later.”

However, yesterday The Citizen tried to find out whether there was any development over the matter, both Mr Mtanda and Home Affairs deputy minister Hamad Masauni did not respond.