October 5 2020 was World Habitat Day but, given that housing is not featuring in the political agendas in the ongoing election campaigns, the day may have passed unnoticeably.
However, the Custodian did take notice, and carried at least two articles related to housing, one of which is titled: “Adequate, ‘more’ affordable housing is vital in sustainable transformation” (7 October, p. 4).
Housing is one of my pet subjects, so the feature attracted my attention.
The writer quotes the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, as saying that there were some 1.8 billion people worldwide living in inadequate housing conditions, informal settlements, overcrowded homes, ‘homelessness’, and ‘unstable’ housing conditions”.
There are at least two language issues related to this article. The title could do with one word less.
“Adequate ‘more’ affordable housing ………” could pass well without the ‘more’, and just remain: “Adequate, affordable housing …….”. Turning to the 1.8 billion people, we note that they are living in (1) inadequate housing conditions, (2) informal settlements, and, (3) overcrowded homes. But are they living in (4) ‘homelessness’? No. They are homeless.
They just do not have any house to live in! Moreover, having pointed out these people live in “inadequate housing conditions”, why say, later on in the same sentence, that they are “living in unstable housing conditions”.
What would be the difference between these two ‘housing conditions’: inadequate, and unstable? We now turn to primary school education. October 7 2020 was day one for sitting the national standard seven examinations as captured by the Custodian of the same date, in a front page news item titled: “Alert on cheating as Std Seven Exams Start today”.
The National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) Executive Secretary is quoted as saying that the candidates ‘were being prepared’ for the past seven years and must be left to write ‘the test’ themselves in an honest way. “Were being prepared” means NOW. So it can’t be “for the PAST seven years”.
“Were being prepared” should be changed to reflect the past; into something like “the candidates have undergone preparations for the past seven years, and are now ready. Let them be left to write ‘the examination’ themselves in an honest way”.
Note that we have changed “test” into “examination” since the two do not mean one and the same thing. NECTA is administering examinations. On page 11 of the same edition of the Custodian is an article titled: “Authorities in Tunduru appeal for measures to end elephant invasions”.
The District Commissioner is quoted as complaining about the frequent invasions of villages by elephants from a nearby Game Reserve. He also said: “The budget is ‘inediquate’ to facilitate fruitful patrols into different villages as a result villagers end up in tears”.
He made further emphasis: “As I am ‘taking’ to you now, the situation is worse”. No accolades for pointing out that “inediquate” should be “inadequate”; and that the DC was not “taking”, but rather, he was “talking”.
Finally we go to sports where we are told that Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) has renewed its sponsorship of Taifar Star (Custodian 12 October, back page). The writer is optimistic about the future of soccer in the Country: “It is now upon TFF to propel the national team to not only higher continental heights, but also global soccer glory, now that they no longer have to contend with financial woes that were hitherto their ‘achilles’ heel”.
“achilles heel”? No. “Achilles’ heel”. Capital “A”, because “Achilles” is a proper noun, the name of a heroic Greek legend whose mother tried to make him immortal by holding the infant by his heel and dipping him into the River Styx.
Eventually he was killed by an arrow shot into his undipped heel (How sad!). “Achilles’ heel” means, a fatal weakness, a vulnerable areas in an organisation, or somebody’s personality. We wish you a flood-free weekend!