Due to WATER flooding, buses on Dar road TRAPPED for hours!

Although our job as media professionals is to convey information, there are times when we end up misinforming the public. Or saying practically nothing even when we intend to inform, educate and entertain them. A waste of printed paper and readers’ time! As in the headline below, found in last weekend’s online edition of the huge, colorful newspaper shared by a reader via this columnist’s WhatsApp address. It reads:

“Dar es Salaam commuter buses TRAPPED in WATER flooding in Jangwani area along Morogoro road, after continuous rain…”

Surely there is nothing in the world like tying up a bus! Well, the verb “to bind” means to fasten or secure in a specific place or position with a strap: kamba. Nothing like that is seen in the image, because what we see are three partially submerged buses and they are not tied at all. How would they do it, anyway?

There is a possibility that our colleague who handled the title wanted to tell readers that the buses were STUCK in the floods in Jangwani. Or, perhaps, stranded/delayed in the floods – they couldn’t move!

Furthermore, it is superfluous to qualify the noun “floods” with “water” because the word “floods”, by itself, means an overflow of a large amount of WATER beyond its normal limits. It means our scribbling colleague should have only talked about “…commuter buses TRAPPED in floods in Jangwani…”

And now, let’s take a look at the April 27 edition of the huge Nairobi tabloid with a sizeable Bongo readership. On page 5 there is an article with the headline “Two KQ workers detained in Kinshasa” and the introduction says:

“Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested two of its citizens detained in Kinshasa since April 19, 2024.”

At the cost of being accused of nit-picking, we note this: the writer must have assumed that the determiner “their” refers to Kenya, but it does not! Rather, in the context of the phrase, it refers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the ministry has no citizens! Citizens are subjects of the Republic of Kenya. Here is our repetition of the paragraph:

“Kenya, THROUGH its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has protested two of its citizens detained in Kinshasa since April 19, 2024.”

In the penultimate paragraph, our colleague from Nairobi writes: “The chairman of the Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committee of the Kenyan National Assembly, Nelson Koech, has also spoken out on the matter.”

The verb “wade” literally means to enter or pass through a substance (such as water, mud, or sand) that is thicker than air. In a figurative sense, as in the previous case, it is to get involved in a topic or move towards something. That is, the sentence should have read: “…the chairman of the committee, Nelson Koech, has also gotten involved in (not in) the matter.”

On page 7, of the same tabloid, there is a story titled ‘Lucy Kabuu: Star Athlete, Broken Marriage and Fight for Marital Property’, and there, the writer writes:

“In the suit he filed against the athlete, Mr Maina argued that he contributed financially to the acquisition and development of PLOTS OF LAND in Nakuru, Nairobi, Nyandarua and Laikipa counties.”

Land parcels? Oh no! We say: “…plots of LAND”. Just as we would say: acres of land and not acres of land.

Let’s go back to Bongo, where we get the most important Sunday newspaper in our Republic, which publishes an article on pages 1 to 3 titled “Tanzania and Somalia expand their ties.” In the last paragraph, the writer tells the readers of him:

“The Somali President’s visit to Tanzania coincided with the 60th anniversary of the union between the former Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar, highlighting the HISTORICAL links between the two countries.”

Historical ties? No Please. Our Republic’s ties with Somalia are not historical, because there is nothing dramatic or spectacular about them. Rather, the links between these two countries are HISTORICAL, meaning the links have existed for a long, long time!

Ah, this treacherous language called English!