ON Friday May 15, 2020 at around noon, some 246 Tanzanians landed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport from India, aboard Air Tanzania Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, to the relief of their relatives.
This important event was accorded the front page coverage in the authoritative Daily Blog of May 16.
“TZ ‘Repatriates’ Stranded Citizens from India” was the head line. In the opening paragraph of the news item the reporter had this to say: “Tanzania has begun ‘repatriating’ its citizens stranded abroad, as a result of cancellation of international flights in the wake of the corona pandemic”.
We all understand that these fellow Tanzanians who wanted to, but could not come back home for sometime, did finally arrive, thanks to the timely action of the Government. But should we say they were “repatriated?” Let us look at the meaning of the verb “repatriate”.
The Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners has it that “to repatriate” means “to send someone back to the country that is legally their own. It also means to send money that you earn in a foreign country back to your own country”. Thus, to “repatriate” is “to send back”.
Sometimes this is done against the affected person’s will (eg in the case of refugees, uninvited migrants or fugitives). Words with similar meaning include: deport, extradite. If the Indian government had decided to send these Tanzanians to their country, it would report that it had repatriated them. This is not what happened.
The Tanzanian Government sent a whole plane to collect them. So, we should say: “Tanzania brings back stranded citizens from India”. Bravo and welcome back, fellow Tanzanians. It is our hope that even those remaining will soon be brought back home.
Turning to page 2 of the authoritative daily of May 18, we find this headline: “Pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, advised on nutrition amidst Covid-19 pandemic”. We think there is something wrong with this headline since it implies that both those who are pregnant and those who are breastfeeding are already mothers.
Yet, those who are pregnant may not be mothers yet. We suggest that instead of using the noun “pregnant” we use the adjective “expectant”. The latter means somebody who will soon be the parent of a new baby. We are, therefore, talking about expectant mothers and about breastfeeding mothers.
This is what was further reported: “Local nutritionists have advised pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to consider principles of nutrition during this coronavirus (Covid-19) infection to ‘serve’ newborns”. “During this coronavirus infection” is incomplete, and it is best rewritten into: “during this coronavirus pandemic period”.
Besides, you do not want “to serve’ newborns with infection. You want “to save” them from infection. Thus, from what we have pointed out above, this sentence needs to be re-written into: “Local nutritionists have advised expectant and breastfeeding mothers to consider principles of nutrition during this coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic period, to ‘save’ newborns”.
The writer goes through the litany of common symptoms for Covid-19 infection as including: “aches and pains …..”. Isn’t this splitting hairs? For, what is the difference between “ache” and “pain”? “Ache” is defined as “a pain that is continuous and unpleasant, but usually not very strong”.
May be the writer should have talked of “general body ache” as a symptom for Covid-19 infection. Finally, on page 6 of the same paper is a photograph showing three young men on a motorbike. Here is the caption: “A boda boda rider carries two passengers and a load in joyride, ‘without none’ wearing a helmet, as captured at Tabata Kimanga in Dar es Salaam …”.
Mr Priest, our English teacher at Secondary School, always discouraged the use of double negatives, since that could mean a positive mood. So, instead of “without none”, he would have recommended “with none”, or “without any” i.e. “with none wearing a head helmet”.
I note also, from the photograph, that none of these young men was wearing a face mask, much as they were riding cheek by jowl! We need to always take precautions against Covid-19. Eid Saeed! firstname.lastname@example.org