THE bad thing with the Christmas- New Year festive season is that it comes and goes, and within no time you have to go back to your normal hectic life. By the time the next season arrives, so much may have changed.
If you are lucky to be around then, somebody dear to you may not be.
Somebody in good health today may be seriously ill, next season. Somebody who was enjoying his life as a free person may be behind bars come December.
A person in high echelons of authority today may be out on the street by then, and so on. But before we completely forget this year’s Christmas and New Year festivities, let us revisit what the various writers brought to our attention as the festive season was approaching.
The Good Citizen on Saturday (24 December (p. 12) carried a warning: “Don’t indulge in excessive drinking no matter what”. The writer concludes: “It is wise for one to refrain from imbibing an excessive amount of alcohol because in as much as the festive season is a time of joy, it is also a time when people are quite ‘carless’ with how they conduct themselves.
Be careful”. You have surely heard of the warning: “Do not drink and drive”. Since most of us drive cars, the warning is mainly addressed to us. You want to drink? Leave your car at home. Be carless, at least for sometime.
However, that is not the writer of the warning above had in mind. He meant that people can be quite ‘careless’ (not ‘carless’) during the festive season. Yes, it may be better to be ‘carless’ than to be ‘careless’.
Once again, festive season or not, do not drink and drive. As Christmas approached, there was unanimity among various commentators that the public in Tanzania was facing a cash crunch.
This included both buyers and sellers of goods: “Christians celebrate Xmas amid cash woes”, went the front page headline in the Good Citizen on Christmas day itself. There was a similar outcry from Kenya as can be gauged from this front page headline of the Sunday Nation (25 December): “Broke Christmas for Teachers and County Workers”.
The workers had not received their December salaries, come Christmas. As Jim Reeves was singing of a White Christmas, these public employees in Kenya were complaining of a moneyless Christmas. So, this year’s Christmas and New Year season must have been grim for many East Africans.
The Good Citizen on Christmas writer sampled public feelings from Dar es Salaam and Arusha and the finding was: “Merry making and heavy partying that usually accompany Christmas and New Year festivities will likely be overshadowed by the cash crunch and the impending January school bills for most parents” (p. 2).
However, there was determination from some people to enjoy themselves. A Dar es Salaam resident, one ZW, was quoted as saying: “It is true that this year we have faced challenging times as far as getting money is concerned, but that should not ‘dumpen our spirit’ on this day……”.
“Dumpen our spirit?” No. According to my Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, there is no verb “to dumpen”. The writer may have mixed up homophones “damp” and “dump”. From “damp” we get the verb “dampen”. We do not have a similar development with regard to the word “dump”.
“To dampen” means “to make slightly wet”; and also, “to make less strong or intense” as in “nothing could dampen their enthusiasm”. The writer should therefore have used the verb; “to dampen”. “To dumpen” does not exist.
The Dar es Salaam resident who was interviewed should have been reported to have said as follows: “It is true that this year we have faced challenging times as far as getting money is concerned but that should not ‘dampen our spirits’ on this day……”.
Please note as well that we are saying: “to dampen our spirits”, not “to dampen our spirit”. The festive season is now behind us. We have no choice but to pick ourselves up and forge ahead.