DECEMBER 9th was Independence Day. It was, for many Tanzanians, a day of celebrations. For our family it was a very sad day since in the morning of that day we lost our beloved mum, never to see again on this earth.
I am writing this from the lakeside municipality of Bukoba, on my way back from mum’s burial, which took place on 15 December, in Kyannumbu, Minziro, Kagera region. The world has been going on. It never stops, even when you, as an individual, are facing excruciating circumstances. In trying to catch up, I have in my hands the Custodian of 9th December.
The front page was elated to the recent disaster in Tanzania and read as follows: “Katesh known bodies reach 80 as damage toll raises census data”. The fourth paragraph in this story demonstrates one of the problems that we face in writing: Repetition.
The writer of the story, purporting to quote a government spokesman had this to say: “The body of a young boy was not identified up to Thursday, but was identified yesterday, while an old woman’s body has not been identified, so the number of identified bodies is 79”.
You will note that there are four ‘identified’s in the above onesentence paragraph. In order to reduce the number of repeated words, we are proposing to rephrase the sentence as follows: “The number of retrieved bodies was 80, as of Thursday, but two bodies: that of a young man, and that of an old woman, were yet to be recognised.
On Friday, the body of the young man was identified, meaning that the identity of 79 bodies is now known.” Repetition is also found in the sentence that followed the one above: “There were 440 people in the camps as of yesterday, with the government expecting to gradually reduce the number of ‘people in the camps’ after a thorough analysis of the situation.” “People in the camps” is repeated twice.
This could be avoided by opting to use different words: “There were 440 people in the camps as of yesterday, with the government expecting to gradually reduce the number of ‘people therein’ after a thorough analysis of the situation.” On page 3 of the same paper, we are informed of the contribution made by the Diplomatic Corps to support Tanzania in coping with the Hanang disaster.
The story is titled: “Diplomats commend government efforts in the Hanang rescue, promise more humanitarian aid.” “Members of the diplomatic Corps in Tanzania have commended the efforts of the government in the Hanang rescue operation following the mudslides ‘landing’ in the area due to heavy rainfall in Manyara Region on December 2, 2023.” Do mudslides “land” I doubt very much.
The writer should have scratched his head for another word. “Members of the diplomatic Corps in Tanzania have commended the efforts of the government in the Hanang rescue operation following the mudslides ‘ravaging’ the area due to heavy rainfall in Manyara Region on December 2, 2023.”
The writer of the story had more to tell us, purporting to quote the UN Country representative in Tanzania: “UN agencies in Tanzania have organised humanitarian aid ‘for the survival’ which will be handed over to the Tanzanian Government.” I doubt whether the UN Representative talked about aid “for survival”. Chances are, he talked about “aid for survivors”.
The sentence should therefore read as follows: “UN agencies in Tanzania have organised humanitarian aid ‘for the survivors’ which will be handed over to the Tanzanian Government.” Finally, the following is quoted from a written exchange between two friends.
One asked the other whether the planned event was going to take place at village A. “Of cause,” replied the other. Of course it was not “of cause” but, “of course.” Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.