Sometimes problems are experienced as was the case with last year’s primary school leaving examination results. One school is requesting the government to intervene, as reported in the my-African (4 January, p. 3) in an article titled: “M. Primary School cries ‘for’ foul.” What is the problem? Read on: “As ‘new academic year at the doorsteps,’ the M Primary School Board Committee ‘emerged’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday to ask the government to reconsider the fate of its standard seven pupils ‘who their’ national examination results were ‘erased’ due to different reasons so as to help them continue with studies.”
Let us start with the article’s title: “….. School cries ‘for’ foul.” What is “for” doing there? The appropriate phrase is “cry foul” (and not “cry ‘for’ foul”). To cry foul means to protest because you think something is wrong or is not fair. Thus the title should read: “M. Primary School cries foul.” How about “erasing examination results”? If the writer was talking of removing examination results from a computer memory or from a register, yes. But, that is not what happened.
The writer seems to believe that the correct word to use is “erase,” for, elsewhere in the article, he/she writes: “…. ‘erasing’ the results of more than 9,000 pupils countrywide is like to lead the children to hell as they do not know their future concerning education.” Clearly, the writer was thinking in Kiswahili and translated “kufuta matokeo” into “erasing examination results.” No. When an examining authority suspects that those who sat for the examination had cheated or where not qualified, it may “nullify” the results. This means those results are not officially recognised (and may not even be released) and those who are adversely affected may have to re-sit the examination.
Another example of direct translation from Kiswahili is this headline about the ongoing saga of higher pontoon fares recently announced by the Minister for Transport. It reads: “Dr Ngungulile ‘sues’ Dr Magufuli to Dr Kikwete.” Note that it is a battle of the doctors, but surely Dr Ndungulile (that is his name and not Ngungulile) did not sue Dr Magufuli to Dr Kikwete. The writer was thinking in Kiswahili: “Dr Ndungulile amshitaki Dr Magufuli kwa Kikwete.” That is why he used the word “sues.” To sue means to make a legal claim against someone, especially for money, because they have harmed you in some way.
You normally sue somebody in a court of law. My version would be: “Dr Ndungulile complains to Dr Kikwete over Dr Magufuli’s move on pontoon fares”; or “Dr Ndungulile takes Dr Magufuli to Dr Kikwete”. Dr Ndugulile is a Member of Parliament and he and his fellow parliamentarians in Dar es Salaam were very unhappy about the higher fares recently announce by Dr Magufuli. Moreover, Dr Magufuli was reported to have said that those who could not pay the new fares had an option: Swim across the creek; which reminds you of the “if they have no bread, let them eat cake” utterance that cost a queen of France her life.
The Dar es Salaam MPs: ‘Came with a conclusion wanting Magufuli ‘apologize Dar es Salaam residents’ for the statement he gave wanting those who would not afford the newly announced fares ‘either swim or use the Kongowe route.’” Furthermore, the MPs said: “‘Increment’ had not only affected ordinary citizens but also the whole system of transportation in the area.” What happened is that the fare for crossing the Magogoni Creek on a ferry was put up from Tshs 100 a person to Tshs 200. Was that an “increment”? No. An increment is a regular increase in the amount of money someone is paid. What the article is referring to is a fares hike or increase, not increment. Tempers are still flying over the new fares.
Meanwhile, young doctors-to-be are having a quarrel with the government and are downing their stethoscopes. Why? They are not getting what the claim to be entitled to. According to the my-African, “Assistant doctors get 10% of the qualified doctors,’ salary whereby according to the system student should attend class for five years and two years will be served as internship as an assistant doctor ‘incubating’ them to be a full doctor.” This is kind of confusing. Is it the two years ‘incubating’ the students-turned-assistant doctors? Or is it the qualified doctors ‘incubating’ the interns? Do human beings ‘incubate’ one another?