THIS column last appeared in October 2019. So, much as we are well into February 2020, we find it proper to take this opportunity to wish you, readers, a belated Happy New Year.
It is nice to be back, and I hope you will not miss your copy of the paper that carries this column. The end of last month (January) saw us make a pilgrimage to Minziro, in honour of the first recognized Tanzanian saint. On the way back, I had the privilege of travelling on a Bombardier, on a fairly clear day.
From the plane’s window, I could see many natural features on the ground, one of which was Lake Eyasi, in the rift Valley. By coincidence, I found myself reading a news item in the Daily Blog titled: “Lake Eyasi dries up as people invade banks” (17 February 2020, p. 3).
Apparently, some people are carrying out activities that are unfriendly to the continued health of the Lake. This is what the writer put before us: “The encroachers, who apparently have been uprooting ‘demarcated boundary beacons’ put around in 2015 have proceeded to farm across its banks and dump rubbish in it”.
What does “demarcated boundary beacons” mean? In land surveying, a beacon is a block of concrete used to mark points on the boundaries of a piece of land. To “demarcate” means to decide the limits of something, especially the borders of an area.
Thus, to use the words “demarcated” and “boundary” together does not quite make sense. I would do away with “demarcated” altogether and say: “encroachers……..have been uprooting boundary beacons”.
The authorities where this is taking place are not amused, and, according to the writer, they want drastic action taken: “Commenting on the crime, the Arusha Regional Commissioner noted that the invaders should be hunted down and ‘arraigned before court’, adding that it is a crime for anyone to pull down any erected beacon surrounding the area”.
We have said it before, but, there is no harm in repeating. To arraign means: “to order someone to go to a court of law to be formally charged with a crime”. You therefore do not say: “to arraign somebody before a court”.
“To arraign” is adequate to convey the meaning. We hope public authorities are taking action to protect Lake Eyasi and other natural features. Yes, Lake Eyasi shall not die! Turning to page 1 of the paper, one finds a huge colourful photograph showing people: men, women and many children, all looking perplexed. What is going on?
The caption gives the answer: “A cross section of some family members camp outside their homes after being ‘excommunicated’ from Kacheche village in Nkasi District, in Rukwa Region, over the weekend. The families for seven months have been roaming about after being evicted from occupying a 400 acres plot that has been in dispute for two years with claims that they have been squatters, and hence not allowed to get basic human activities from the area”.
So, these poor souls have been “excommunicated” from Kacheche village? No! “Excommunicate” does not mean “throwing somebody off a piece of land”, which seems to be what the writer had in mind.
“Excommunicate” is about religion, meaning: “to officially say that someone can no longer be a member of the Roman Catholic Church because they have done something that breaks the rules of the Church”.
Clearly, these people are being evicted from the 400 acres plot they have been occupying for some time. Now that the matter has been highlighted by the press, it is our hope that authorities will come to the rescue of these families, and find a solution that will put a smile back to their faces. Be with us next week!