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THIS column has not appeared for two weeks, due to the passing away of my dear sister, Margaret, which, despite all statistical odds against, happened on 28 January.

Her body was transported to Katoma, near Bukoba Municipality for burial. There was mourning as well at her birth place, Minziro, in Missenyi District.

The fact that we will not see her again walking the streets, or pick up a phone and hear her “hello”, or get her ‘WhatsApp’ message is heartbreaking.

But that is life. May she rest in peace! The good thing, when you are out there in the villages, is that you are spared the information bombardment you get when you are in a big city like Dar es Salaam.

It looked to me like nobody in the village had heard of a person called Donald Trump. Nobody was aware that Parliament was in session. Nor was there concern that a crackdown on suspected drug dealers was going on. What, in Dar es Salaam appears like a “must know” before the world comes to a halt, hardly made news in the village.

Instead, the demise of my sister made sad news considering her immense contribution to the socio-economic development of Minziro. Everybody too talked about the three ‘clouds’ of rain that took place during that period, rekindling hopes of harvesting something from what had been planted and looked doomed to wither, what with the scorching sun for the past several weeks.

Clearly, an information-less culture is possible and could be enjoyable, or at least, could reduce your stress levels.

Thus, it was a bit sad to come back to hectic Dar es Salaam; and to start reading the papers. Given that water is now a big problem in Minziro, the front-page article titled: “Kilosa water sources at risk as cattle invasions escalate” (Custodian, 14 February) attracted my attention.

As the writer narrates: “At least 5000 ‘heads’ of cattle have invaded water sources …….. in Morogoro Region. The invasion is threatening the ‘disappearance’ of the main rivers which supply water to thousands of villagers …..”. “Heads of cattle?” You may quickly say “yes”.

After all, there are around 5,000 cows and bulls invading the water source. In practice however, we say “5000 head (not heads) of cattle”; “40 head of sheep” etc. These animals are not threatening the “disappearance” of rivers.

They are threatening the “existence” of these rivers. So, a rewrite of the two sentences should go along these lines: “At least 5000 ‘head’ of cattle have invaded water sources …….. in Morogoro Region. The invasion is threatening the ‘existence’ of the main rivers which supply water to thousands of villagers …..”.

What are the authorities doing about this situation? Apparently very little! A vividly angry councilor is reported to have accused district leaders, the police, and the courts of not doing enough to protect both farmers and the catchment area: “In most cases, the district authorities tend to ‘turn the other cheek’ with regard to the cattle invasion”.

I am sure, the writer did some hard head scratching on what saying to use before settling for “turn the other cheek”. The concept of “turning the other cheek” comes from the Bible: In St Mathew’s Gospel (Chapter 5), an alternative for “an eye for an eye” doctrine is given by Jesus: “38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you,That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”.

If the authorities in Kilosa turned the other cheek to cattle eating crops on one farm they would direct the same cattle to other farms to carry out the same destruction. Is this what the writer had in mind? Most likely not! For, the authorities are accused of doing nothing as cattle destroy the farmers’ crops. For “turn the other cheek” the writer had “turn a blind eye” in mind.

To “turn a blind eye” means to ignore something that you know is wrong, and you should do something about it. That is what the District authorities in Kilosa are accused of doing. Have a nice weekend

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