To the proposition that beneath the vulgarity of Nyanzi's posts there is profound sense and poetry, this is what George Orwell (1903 - 1950) had to say: "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things such as that; no ordinary man can be such a fool."

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Is Ofwono Opondo saying that there is a certain debate about the people - "a people debate" - and Mafabi should leave it? If you have a generous spirit, you will consider such a far-fetched question. But when you read the article, your generosity proves unsustainable as you clearly see that the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre actually intended to write, "Mafabi, let people debate". I am inclined to the belief that what we see is the headline he submitted, rather than one contrived by editors, because the whole article is in terrible English. It's more likely that he submitted a badly-written manuscript than that the editors put errors into it. Consider such a paragraph: "But there are millions of Ugandans, outside of NRM with equal stake, but who belong to no formal organs, except being in the public space who should not seek permission from the NRM leadership in order to exercise their rights." Who makes sense of such gibberish? Or perhaps the question should be, who publishes such gibberish? A few days ago, we took the Error of the Day from an article by the Communications and Public Relations Manager of Uganda Media Centre. Today, it's his boss that provides Error of the Day. Since some followers of Error of the Day ask why I "witch-hunt" New Vision and Monitor, perhaps they will also ask why I pick on officials of the Uganda Media Centre. But those are wrong questions. You should instead be asking why I love the two newspapers ( for it's only the newspapers I read in which I notice errors), and you should be asking how people who cannot correctly use the official language get to become the leaders of Uganda Media Centre?

We have taken today's Error of the Day from an article in the Observer. But it has to be noted that the error has had to beat off stiff competition from seven errors in the lead story of this week's edition of The Independent.

 

Error 1: "Witness accounts had helped police come up with SKETCH DRAWING of two people, suspected to have been behind the killings." They meant: "sketch drawings"

 

Error 2: "Indeed, insiders say the threats could be from any one; Kaweesi’s NEMESIS' from some of the cases he has handled in the past, those that have accused him of defrauding them or being involved in the murder of their loved ones and even those whose positions he threatened as he rose through the ranks within police." The plural of nemesis is nemeses. You don't just put an apostrophe at the end of the singular, and assume that it has become plural.

 

Error 3: "This meant that he often had to interfere with dockets of some colleagues, which did not endear him to everyone even within the force. As a result of SOME THIS, he was from time to time a victim of internal intrigue." Perhaps they left out the word "of". Not sure.

 

Error 4: "Kaweesi, who joined police in 2001, had WITH IN ten years risen to the ranks to head Kampala Metropolitan Police." Why is there space between the two words?

 

Error 5: "At the house warming of his house in Lwengo district around the same time, Kayihura also hailed Kaweesi for his hard work, discipline and loyalty adding that these were the attributes he had come this far." "... attributes he had come this far"? What does that mean?

 

Error 6: "Specifically, in September 2007, Kaweesi had started training a cohort of over 400 officers, who starting with 2010 and 2013, occupied about 90 percent of all the command posts in the force." Starting which year? 2010 or 2013? It surely can't be both!

 

Error 7: "But this put him and his cohort on a collision course with the old guard in the force who felt sideline." "Sideline" has a past tense. It is "sidelined". Seven errors in one article. Seven errors in a lead story.

The Kenyan magazine, Parents, has significantly changed since the early 90s when I first read it and got instantly hooked. Those days, it was a black and white publication, and the graphics design wasn't anything to write home about. But the stories were compelling, and it's the reason I always looked forward to the next issue.

The magazine had been on the market for only four years, but it was already so big on the East African scale that copies were regularly delivered to Mbarara town, which was a very sleepy place those years. And since there was nothing remarkable in the cosmetic aspects of the magazine, it's safe to say that the success was down to the stories.

The editorial policy of Parents seems to have been informed by the idea that the most ordinary people have the most extraordinary stories. While most newspapers and biographers typically chase after top politicians, business leaders, religious leaders, top athletes, popular musicians, etc, for stories, Parents Magazine brought us stories of people we had never heard of and would never have otherwise heard of. There is a Facebook page called Humans of New York whose foundational idea seems to be close to that of Parents.

It is limited imagination, or plain laziness, on the part of journalists and writers that pushes them towards familiar names for familiar stories. The obscure, gaunt and ragged man walking timidly on the streets probably has a story that's far more interesting and instructive than that of Byanyima, or Museveni, or Sudhir, or Chameleone, or Kiprotich, or Musisi. But we take no notice of such a man as we dash to the offices of these 'big' people to record narratives that the public already knows. Is it because we find coffee in those offices whereas, if we had to interview the gaunt man, we would have to buy the coffee?

There are extraordinary stories everywhere. What's rare, perhaps, is the ability to notice the extraordinariness in apparent ordinariness, and the skill to draw it out.