Why I’ve had it up to here with this popular headline word


When — in terms of circulation — you are a country’s leading newspaper, you should be keenly aware that you carry extraordinarily heavy responsibilities.

For every member of the nation’s young generation of readers looks up to you not only for objective knowledge but also — which is really the same thing — for correctness in (and beauty of) language.

Why? For the simple reason that — however dangerously incorrect the information may be — young human minds are extraordinarily receptive to and extraordinarily retentive of new information.

Young girls and boys are thus extraordinarily likely to internalise permanently any piece of newspaper misinformation and misuse of language.

In a country where newspaper readership is rising, if the most popular newspaper is also the purveyor of false information in faulty language, every generation of young newspaper readers is most likely to regard it in the same way that the Christian churchgoer worldwide regards the New Testament.


That is why it never ceases to disappoint me that — despite my frequent advice — the very newspaper for which I write this column is the one whose sub-editors persist in misusing the preposition “over” day after day.

The sensitive reader will have picked up the following among the examples that the Nation peddled on Wednesday, November ll:

Page l: Nkaissery under fire over arrest of Nation journalist;

Page 2: Group demands full disclosure over the sale of Telcom Kenya;

Page 3: Outrage as police arrest Nation journalist over “sensitive” report (and) Outrage over Ngirachu’s arrest;

Pag 16: Policeman put on trial over pupil’s death;

Page 17: Storm brewing over Sh20 bn power project;

Page 18: Mosoriot students in protests over exams;

Page 19: End row over planned factory, Nema told (and) Hospital detains officer over Sh195,000 bill;

Page 20: State faulted over power plant revenue;

Page 24: Reps trade blows as bid to oust leader fails over voting dispute [ugh!];

Page 26; Governors and reps clash over funds for wards (and) Bensouda “cursed” over Ruto;

Page 30: Protest over Tanzania cyber crime laws;

Page 31; Sudan protests over renewal of US sanctions;


No, the Nation group is not alone in this disgusting business.

All of East Africa’s dailies and other periodicals are sunk into it up to the neck.

However — because the Daily Nation is the most popular publication of them all — it poses a special problem to East Africa’s children.

It is that all our children naturally seek to copy the Nation’s language.

As a parent who buys these print organs and leave them on the living room table — so that every child has access to them — is this the kind language that you would like your children to deploy when they enter the social market?

Is this the value for which you pay through the nose to send your child to school and to buy our print media?

If our periodicals are Mr Sossion’s idea of masterpieces of world literature, are we not in a parlous state as a nation claiming to be in dialogue with itself?