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Why 'to give first priority' is utter nonsense.

By PHILIP OCHIENG What is it to "give priority" to something or to somebody? It is to consider the thing or the person of greater value or of greater urgency than anything or anybody else. It is thus to try to deal with it, with him or with her before you deal with anything or anybody else in the same category.

A priority, then, is a first consideration. That is why the term first priority common among Kenya's politicians, civil servants and even teachers and journalists is senseless.

First, the words first priority logically imply the existence of a second priority and by further implication even of a last priority or a final priority namely, expressions that contain no logic whatsoever, expressions that Edward Carey Francis, my high school headmaster, would have dismissed as utter nonsense. For, whenever a thing or person attains priority, it, he or she raises the question: How can I (she or he) be the last? The word prior is synonymous with the word before, sometimes even with the adjectives earlier and first.

Yet whenever Kenya's parliamentarians demand some governmental action, they never fail to stress that the government must give priority to it. What would happen to our society if our government gave priority to every politico's public demand? One of the consequences would be that the term "to give priority to" would have lost all meaning.

For, in the eventuality, nothing would have received any real action, leave alone any priority action. FIRST ACTION Yet it is from Kenya's politicos that you most get the expression first priority, which seems to lend legitimacy to the expression second priority, which makes possible the expression third priority.

But, though all these make possible even the terms final priority and last priority, the word priority refers only to "first consideration", "first treatment" or "first action". That is why it is absolutely nonsensical to give first priority to anything, to any institution or to anybody.

For, in truth, the adjective prior already contains the idea of first. That is why to "give first priority to" is to utter tautological rubbish.

For, even as a concept, a priority is the first and cannot be the last of any consideration. Whenever anything is a priority in your plan, it is the first of the items.

Ultimately, then, the adjective prior may have the same etymological root as the adjective prime. For both imply the same quality and, in the society of human beings, the same power position.

Nowadays, the latter usually includes that of the prime minister, namely, of a national country's top political official, where the word prime is synonymous with the words first, leading and topmost. However, the word minister believe it or not is synonymous with the word servant.

For in the original ideal that Western Europe later imposed on Africa and the Third World, your prime minister was your nation's leading public servant.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Apr 26, 2019
Words:557
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