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Of ‘re-seaters’and ‘socket’breakers

The latter are those who have to redo National Form IV and Form VI examinations. For QT please read Qualifying Test. But are those candidates who have to redo their examinations 're-seaters'? The concept of a seat comes to mind. Candidates will in most of the cases do their examinations while seated.

They will normally have seats, although in some cases, they have to make do with just the floor. So, should they do badly in their first attempt and have to do the exam again be called 're-seaters'? The answer is no.

There is a verb 're-sit' which means 'to take an examination again, because you failed it or did not do well enough'. Naturally, the noun from 're-sit' is 're-sitter'. I would therefore refer to those who have to redo their examinations, as 're-sitters' instead of 're-seaters'.

A colleague is constructing what he calls a 'kabanda' (meaning a small structure but in the Tanzanian way of speaking, this could mean a whole mansion). He is now struggling with installing the electrical system to his house. Looking at the buying list brought to him by his 'fundi' (technician, in this case, an electrician), my attention was drawn to what was called 'a socket breaker'.

OK you have a number of sockets in the electrical system to the house but you need to install some safety equipment. One of these is the 'circuit breaker' which the 'fundi' calls a 'socket breaker'. It is a piece of equipment that stops an electric current from reaching a machine or tool if the latter is faulty and could pose danger to the building etc. Faulty sockets are a major cause of the circuit breaker tripping, thus interrupting the flow of electricity. We do not have 'socket breakers' in concept or on the market.

I have the Good Citizen of 18 March in front of me. On page 1 is a story of a foiled attempted robbery, but on page 5, the story is of another robbery that was actually carried out. The headline to the latter reads: "Bandits 'highjack' three vehicles, grab money". 'Highjack' does not seem to exist in the various Advanced Learners English Dictionaries that have been consulted.

Instead there is 'hijack' which means 'to use violence to take control of a vehicle such as a plane and force it to take a different course or demand something from the government, or, rob passengers, etc'. The bandits first attacked one vehicle identified as a 'Toyota Fuso' lorry.

The Singida Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ms Celina Kaluba, confirmed the incident that occurred at midnight in Kisaki Village a few miles from Singida town. 'He' said the robbers were carrying traditional weapons...... She said the bandits put 'crews' 'under arrest' and 'robbed them their mobile phones and cash'.

Now, if the truck was a Toyota, then it was not a Fuso. We have pointed our before that Fuso (as is Canter) is a Mitsubishi model and not a Toyota one. Note as well the 'he-she' mix-up on RPC Celina Kaluba. Since this keeps on recurring, it must be a chronic problem among Tanzanian writers. Let the 'he's' be 'he's', and the 'she's be 'she's'.

Did the bandits 'put crews under arrest'? We do not think so. 'Crew' means all those people who work on a ship or plane. Does this definition include people working on a lorry or a bus? It is a matter of conjecture. In any case, we are not talking about 'crews' unless we are referring to separate vehicles. All the staff working on one vehicle (as in this case) are, 'the crew'.

Can bandits put their victims 'under arrest'? It is the police, the law enforcers, who put somebody suspected of wrong doing, under arrest. Besides, the bandits did not 'rob them their mobile phones, cash ...'. You do not rob somebody something. The whole sentence needs rethinking and recasting into something like: 'She said the bandits seized the lorry staff and robbed them OF their mobile phones and cash'.
On page 25 is an article on travelling titled: 'Hiking in the 'skyscrapping' Usambaras'. The writer wanted to impress that the Usambaras are high mountain ranges, but by referring to them as skyscrapping he may have gone astray. A very tall building, analogous to the Usambara Mountains, is not a 'skyscrapper', but a skyscraper. However, it does not appear like we can formulate a verb out of the noun 'skyscraper', so perhaps the writer should have thought of another word. My suggestion would be: 'Towering Usambaras'. 'Towering' is an adjective, meaning 'very tall' eg 'great towering cliffs'.
We end up with page 27, reading an article titled: 'My sister-in-law and Nairobi fly saga'. Among others, the writer tells us: 'In the past, I have connected several of my wife's relatives 'through means foul and fair' and therefore became the de facto recruitment agency for the tribe.' Recruiting these relatives for what, by Jove?

Moreover, the idiom is not 'through means foul and fair' but 'by fair means or foul', meaning, 'using any method to get what you want, including those that are dishonest or illegal'. That is why it was important for the writer to tell the reader, why members of the tribe were being recruited!

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