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The dog that ‘corked’ its ears; the ‘argent’ who can send your money urgently

The dog that ‘corked’ its ears; the ‘argent’ who can send your money urgently


And of course you oblige. The trouble is, this is a one way traffic. You keep on sending, but never will you ever receive. Pundits say that is development. I have my reservations.  These days, you have X-pesa outlets literally every fifty metres. Sometimes, their service is not all that romantic, when, for example, they cannot send your hard-earned money to whoever has whined at you, because they have no “float”.

So you end up moving from one outlet to the other, with the other end complaining why you have not sent the money yet. I was doing exactly that when I bumped into this large banner near Posta house in downtown Dar es Salaam,  reading: “X-pesa ‘argent’ No. 00000”  Those who provide X or Y pesa services advertise themselves using the Arabic/Swahili word “Wakala”. Why did this particular one decide to call himself “Argent”?

Could it be that he studied French and knows that money in that language is “argent”? Or did he want to remind you that with X-pesa, money is sent instantly, urgently? Most likely, neither of the above. The guy is “an agent” who erroneously decided to advertise himself as “an argent”. Needless to say, I did not use his services.

While we all must regularly go to the toilet, toilet services are poor or non-existent in many places. You are at this public institution and must visit the toilet as a matter of urgency. You see a sign reading “MAN” and you assume (quite correctly) that it is the GENTS. You get in but alas, of the three cubicles making up the toilet, two are occupied and one has a notice on the door reading: “THIS TOILET IS OUT OF ‘US’”. Meaning what? Is it from the United States (of America), the US? Or, is it from the workers of the institution, “us”? But then you notice that the door is locked and has not opened for ages and realise that the toilet is indeed out of USE (not: “out of us”).

There is this comic writer in the Sunday Good Citizen whose stories, usually about the life of the common man in Uswahilini, make interesting reading The title of the article of 15th January (p. 27) read (with some modification) as follows: “How Scooby (the dog) tamed sponging H”. The writer relates the story of Dr W. M. (Dipl, BA, BSc, MA, Phd, post-Phd, MBSSR etc). There is rumour that this Dr of a gentleman is eyeing the local political seat, come next elections.

Will he make it? We are told: “One fact is for sure; he will ‘certainly’ have a hard time unseating Hon. T. T. K….”. Now, having said: “one fact is for sure”, was there a need to say “certainly”? If something is for sure, it is certain, surely!  The writer also tells the story of Mr H. who, coming out of the local pub, trespassed onto Dr W.M’s compound, guarded by a dog Scooby: “Scoopy must have been very bored as dogs can sometime be.

On hearing strange whistles it ‘corked its ears’, snarled menacingly and charged at him with all its mighty. Mr H became hysterical, calling all dog names in the dog dictionary but the dog did not ‘budge’”  Now, dogs do not “cork their ears”. They “cock” them. To cock an ear or an eye means to listen or look very carefully. Dogs do that often. You could say for example: “The little dog looked up and cocked its ears”.

On the other hand, to cork means to close a bottle by blocking the opening at the top tightly with a long round piece of cork. Should dogs successfully cork their ears, they would find it difficult to hear.  From the story we gather that the dog charged at Mr H, much as he shouted at it. Why then is the writer saying the dog did not budge? To budge means to move or to make someone or something move.

If you do not budge, then you do not move. How can the writer tell us that the dog that charged at Mr H, “ferociously tearing at his buttocks” as he ran for ‘his dear life’, did not budge? Did not move? This seems to be contradictory. May be the writer wanted to say that the dog kept on charging despite efforts to scare it away.  And by the way you do not usually use the possessive adjective with “run for dear life”. This means Mr H. ran “for dear life”, not “for his dear life”.


Author: Lusuga Kironde

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