Artistes don’t play music ‘tools’; they play music ‘instruments’

Friday January 07 2022
Artistes pic

The reader who sent us this picture, which he took at Uru in Moshi, confirmed that behind the signboard is a business that deals in making bread and cakes. In other words, the place where the business is operated is called a BAKERY (not BEKARY). Trust signwriters! PHOTO | MARISA JOSIAH

By Abdi Sultani

This is the first 2022 article for ‘Our Kind of English’ column; it is therefore apt for me to say: “Happy New Year, dear esteemed readers.”

Let me start by registering my appreciation of readers’ responses that have been massive. There were those who wrote to say I am wasting my time and newspaper space; others said I am doing a commendable job, urging me carry on. Most positive were those who suggested I should compile selected pieces into a book.

To you all I say, thank you so much. Why, any feedback, be it a pat on the back or a slap on the face, is a motivation to a writer. Pushes him to keep it up, or make improvements.

I will now proceed with sharing linguistic “gems” picked up from recent editions of Bongo’s English press. Here we go…

A reader communicated and drew my attention to a caption for a photo on Page 4 of Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet of December 25, 2021. It reads:

“Muheza district traffic police commander in Tanga region, Richard Muwe SPEAKS to passengers to USE seat belts for safety…”


Now Muheza is a name of an area, and so is Tanga. These are best placed close to each other. And then, what does “speaks (to passengers) to use” mean? Signs of intellectual laziness are apparent here—on the excuse of being brief! Let me redeem the caption with a rewrite:

“Traffic police commander FOR Muheza district in Tanga region, Richard Muwe, SPEAKS to passengers ON THE NEED to USE seat belts for THEIR safety…”

Come Friday, December 31, 2021, and the tabloid associated with this columnist had a solemn year-ender article on Page 14, entitled, ‘Hail and farewell to all the stars we lost 2021’.

Informing readers on departed hip-hop artiste C-Pwaa, the entertainment scribbler wrote:

“He started music in Park Lane group with Suma Lee, before the two went ASTRAY.”

It looks like our colleague doesn’t know what the expression “go astray” means, so one may ask, why he used it, albeit in is the past tense—went astray?

According to Oxford Dictionary, “go astray” means to “become lost”, “be stolen”, “to “go in the WRONG direction” or to “have the wrong result.” There are no details that show Suma Lee and C-Pwaa suffered from any mishap that can be defined by the expression “go astray”. Kwenda mrama in Kiswahili. So, we aver that the two artistes simply PARTED WAYS, with each taking his own direction.

Then, the scribbler gives a summary on another departed artiste, Simao, who he describes as someone “who knew how to…play music TOOLS.”

Play music tools? We are certain our colleague is referring to things like the guitar, the piano or drums. These aren’t music tools; we call them music INSTRUMENTS.

Writing on another entertainment star who died in 2021, the scribbler mentions radio presenter Fredwaa, who died due to what the police claimed was OVER-SPEEDING. Well, let me remind fellow communicators that when you drive above the legal limit, that is simply SPEEDING (not over-speeding)!

Finally, a look at what was picked up from Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet of Saturday, January 1, thanks to a Page 1 story entitled, ‘Mwinyi vows WAGING war on MALPRACTICE’.

Well, how about, ‘Mwinyi vows TO WAGE war on MALPRACTICES’? In any case, the intro reads: “Zanzibar President…has vowed to wage the (sic!) fight on corruption, embezzlement of public resources and humiliation acts (sic!)…” Several malpractices have been mentioned, right?

In Para 4, the scribbler purports to quote what the President said and writes: “ISLE is guided by the principles of human rights and good governance…”

Isle is…? No sir! When you want cut the “monotony” of referring to Tanganyika’s partner to the United Republic of Tanzania as “Zanzibar”, then say “THE ISLES (are)” not Isle (is).

Ah, this treacherous language called English!