ODM and ‘other’ old guards; push to ‘concrete’ the hopes

Friday September 24 2021
ODM pic

PUNCHER service? The noun “puncher” should be from the verb “punch” which means “strike with the fist”. We don’t believe anyone would visit a garage (like the one where this photo was taken) to receive a punch on his nose! It is certain the artist behind this goof had instructions to paint PUNCTURE service. This service entails plugging small holes (punctures, not punchers), that result in escape of air. Trust signwriters! PHOTO| READER KICHAWELE MSANGI

By Abdi Sultani

I will kick off today’s article with what I picked up from the Sunday, September 5 edition of the huge tabloid from Nairobi which enjoys a sizeable readership in Bongo. In its Page 6 story entitled, ‘Don’t rig me out’, one Jimi Wanjigi who is keen on being the next Kenyan President after Uhuru Kenyatta’s second and last term expires next year, is thus reported:

“The presidential hopeful announced that IT IS TIME Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and OTHER old guards HANG up their boots and PAVE WAY for a new crop for leaders…”

Grammar has been seriously messed up here! When you say, “it is time”, or it is high time”, the subsequent action which you link with the expression must be in the past tense. In which case, the sentence should read, “…HUNG up (not hang up) their boots…” And we don’t pave way; we pave THE way.

There is also a misuse of “other”. As I have repeatedly cautioned in this space, when you connect two parts of a sentence with the adjective “other” you are suggesting that the parts are logically associated. Now the ODM is a political party while the term “old guards” refers to persons—members of a group regarded as unwilling to accept change. It means you can talk of ODM LEADERS and OTHER old guards, (not ODM and OTHER old guards).

I will cut the lecturing and offer a rewrite: “The presidential hopeful ANNOUNCED it WAS (not ‘it is’) time ODM’S CURRENT LEADERS and OTHER old guards HUNG up their boots to pave THE way for a new crop of leaders…”

And then, Bongo’s senior-most Sunday broadsheet of September 12 has for its back page a lead story entitled, ‘Yanga vs Rivers at empty stadium’ in which the scribbler writes in Para 2:


“The two teams will be eyeing to get good results that will CONCRETE their hopes of advancing to the first round CONTINENTAL BIGGEST club level showpiece.”

There is a grammatical goof here too, I aver. The word “concrete” has been used as a verb while it is an adjective. Our colleague should have written, “…will CONCRETISE their hopes of advancing…”

There is also a problem with word order when you say “continental biggest this or that.” It should be “biggest continental this or that”, or “the continent’s biggest this or that.”

Still on the same page, there is a story headlined, ‘Biashara sees brighter road in Dar return leg’ in which the scribbler says in his intro:

“After stamping a vital away 1–0 win against FC Dikhil of Djibouti on Friday, Biashara United coach Patrick Odhiambo said he was CONVINCED TO win by a big margin during the return leg…”

He was convinced to win? No; that would mean someone has egged him on to win when, probably, he wasn’t interested!. I aver that the scribbler set out to report that Coach Odhiambo was convinced (or had the confidence) HE WOULD win…”

The scribbler writes further in Para 2: “It was a perfect start for the Mara-based OUTFITS in the ongoing CAF Confederation Cup campaign…”

Mara-based outfits? Nope. If our colleague is talking about the team that beat the Djibouti boys, then he must have meant to write OUTFIT (not outfits)!

Finally, a gem from the tabloid that is closely associated with this columnist. In a Page 14 story entitled, ‘Female videographers hope to narrow the gender gap’, the scribbler reports:

“Hellen Hartley (sic!), 23, a videographer and video editor at Mwananchi Digital, HER journey to work in the media industry began after THE failure OF Form Six.”

The failure of Form Six? That doesn’t make sense to me, sorry! I guess our colleague planned to write: “…after HER failure IN Form Six.” And the preposition FOR should have been used before the name Hellen Hartley...

Ah, this treacherous language called English!