Tanzania and ITS neighbouring states; PROTECTIVE helmet

Friday November 20 2020
abdi Sultan

As a professional scribbler targeting the masses—hence the term “mass media”–using simple language goes a long way to enable your audience to easily understand what you are saying.

Having thus lectured, let us proceed to our key task of sharing gemstones that we picked up over the last week. So, here we go…

In the Saturday, November 14 edition of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist, we have a story on Page 4 entitled, ‘Huge boost for traditional medicines after Covid-19’, in which the scribbler, purports to quote his source, writes:

“During the pandemic, apart from praying to God, traditional herbs and alternative medicines played a huge role to SURMOUNT Covid-19 AWAY.”

Surmount Covid-19 away? Nope; you simply surmount it. Why, our dictionary says the verb “surmount” means to deal successfully with a difficulty. It is the same thing as “to defeat Covid-19”. Or overcome it.

In Para 5, the scribbler says: “Unlike ITS neighbouring countries, Tanzania did not shut down its economy or declare quarantines…”


We have handled this goof in the past, so our critique here is just a reiteration: when you say Tanzania and ITS neighbouring countries, you are implying there are certain countries that belong to us. Heavens, no! Tanzania has never POSSESSED any of its neighbours.

Countries such as Kenya, Malawi and Uganda are simply ITS neighbours. Or, if you like, these are countries IT shares borders.

Still on Saturday, November 14, on which day Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet has a story on Page 3, entitled, ‘Wear Helmet campaign launched for bodaboda’. Therein, the scribbler says in his intro:

“The ATT in collaboration with FIA International yesterday launched a campaign for boda-boda riders (motorcycle taxi) [sic!] and passengers to wear PROTECTIVE helmet.”

Writing “helmet”, then qualifying it with the adjective “protective” is an indulgence in tautological nonsense. Why, the dictionary thus defines helmet (which we hear pronounced by some stakeholders as element): type of hard hat that protects the head.

Our colleague also messes himself up, wasting print paper space, when he bothers to define in brackets what bodaboda means in English. It means, he is not aware that it is years now since the word was inducted into the English language. Just like we have shamba, safari and matatu.

Still on Saturday, November 14, thanks to gems availed to us courtesy of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet. On Page 2, there is a story with the headline, ‘JPM welcomes constructive criticism in House’, and the intro reads thus:

“President John Magufuli has called (sic!) MPs to criticise the GOVERNMENT constructively as that will help the GOVERNMENT deliver to public expectation.”

Our query: why use the noun “government” twice while the pronoun IT would have aptly replaced the same? And, the President has called ON…(not just called…).

On Page 8 of the same broadsheet, there is a story entitled, ‘32,555 employees disciplined as government plugs corruption loopholes’.

In a reportage attributed to the President, the scribbler writes towards the end of his story: “The government will strengthen the use of Kiswahili LANGUAGE…”

The qualifier “language” here is another case of tautological wastefulness, because the word Kiswahili by itself refers to our regional lingua franca. It is not like, say, English, where we have say, English literature, English cuisine, English. However, it would also be ridiculous if you said, “He speaks English language” since the preceding word readies the listener to know that what comes after refers to a language.

Finally, on the same page, there is another story headlined, ‘Training on responsibilities for Zanzibar legislators’, in which the scribbler says in the last paragraph:

“ON HIS part, the DPP explained ABOUT the history and development Zanzibar House of Representatives…”

On his part? Nope, we say “for his part”. Furthermore, we don’t explain about things, we simply explain them.

Ah, this treacherous language called English!


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