Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Could it be a case of mistaken identity or something else? There occasions when we see somebody and assume that we know them. We wave to them or stop and talk to them, then embarrassingly, realize we got the wrong person. But what are we supposed to do? How do we get ourselves out of the quagmire? Most people simply say ‘sorry’ and move on but then again, saying sorry and moving on leaves you open to ridicule. It leaves you open to ridicule because the person whom you mistook for somebody else will tell everybody who was around them at the time you mistook them for somebody else about how you made an ass your yourself.

I have known Richard Byarugaba who heads NSSF for years. I know him inside out – and when I say that, I don’t mean it in the actual sense of the word, but I do know him and we are friends. Some weeks ago, Humphrey Nzeyi – you know, he who is behind Nandos on Kampala Road? Well he opened a new outlet in Kabalagala in the mall just down the road from the American Embassy.

I was invited and of course I did my usual thing. Mingle, quaff some wine and eat some food followed by more mingling a wine re-fill, and more food. Then I saw him – Richard Byarugaba or so I thought. I should have known something was amiss because it was a week day and Richard Byarugaba was not wearing a suit. And my opening line to him – “Hey Richard, we are all watching you and we hope you don’t do anything stupid and end up like Jamwa” - fell on deaf ears. Okay ‘Richard’ gave me a puzzled smile and went for a glass of wine. When I caught up with him again and asked if it was worth the stress moving from the bank to NSSF, ‘Richard’ once again looked puzzled.

I too looked puzzled for the more I looked at him, the more I began to realise that I was not with THE Richard Byarugaba and I could see where he was going next. He was going to tell me that I got the wrong person but I beat him to it. “Imposter!” so I said, but not out loud to him, but under my breath and off I walked. One thing I couldn’t understand is why he didn’t tell me from the onset that he was not Byarugaba? And to Nzeyi and the agency, Firefox that handled the launch, next time could you swing some beers and not just wine for I am not a wine drinker and think that the glasses I had, did have something to with my mistaken identity crisis.

When Joy joined this newspaper, she rose up the ranks to eventually become editor of the women’s section. Joy and as far as I can remember, always came to work on time and in the evenings, her father would be on hand to pick her up. Her dad rides a bike – and when I say rides a bike, I don’t mean those cartoon Bajaj’s or Bullets that Boda Boda Rider rides. His is a big machine, a machine that Arthur Blick would look at and would have him drooling malusu all over himself! It made more noise than a Mig fighter jet and a simple rev on the throttle, it spewed out enough oomph that would probably snap the knickers off any woman walking by.

And one evening I see Joy about to clamber onto what I thought was a boda for her ride home so I made it a point to assure the rider and if I recall, this is what I said.

TB: “I have met your type before. Along the way you start to take advantage of these girls and take them to other places. You don’t know who I am but if she (Joy) does not get home safely, I am going to come looking for you and bite your head off. Do you understand me?”

Boda Rider didn’t respond. Rather, he looked bemused. I on the other hand, had a sense of happiness about myself in that, I had done the right thing – that, I had assured Boda Rider and he had not only trembled but heeded everything I told him.

However, there was an upper-cased BUT to contend with. When Boda Rider started up his bike, it didn’t whimper into life like a Bajaj or a Bullet. It barked and when he rode off with Joy into the early evening dark, it didn’t snail away like a Bajaj or a Bullet but it kicked, it had a rage just like a machine that would have Arthur Blick drooling all over himself.

A concern came all over me. Had I made a mistake? Was it a case of mistaken identity? Surely I could not have been assuring Joy’s dad for he – or even Joy would have said something – not so?

But I had made a mistake for the following day, the s**t did hit the fan! It was not Boda Rider that I had assured but Joy’s dad. Since then, whenever I see Joy’s dad, I stop, come to my senses, turn around and make a run for it. But for what it’s worth, to Joy’s dad, my sincere apologies for that outburst.

I’d never met the OC Traffic at Wandegeya Police Station. In fact, the only reason why I would have previously met him is if I was involved in some form of traffic offence. When I did eventually meet him, it was exactly because of that – a traffic offence.

Police Officers have ranks and wear pips on their shoulders. I figure that the more pips or ‘mayinja’ as they say in Luganda, the higher the rank. After being pushed out of lane at the Wandegeya lights, Policewoman hauled me to Wandegeya Police Station and in an office on the third floor, I was before Policeman with no mayinja’s. I sized him up and reckoned he was somebody I could bully and I did just that.

Other traffic offenders – especially Taxi Driver were amazed by my bravado that one of them sought to tug my shirt sleeve and tell me to cool down. But I was in my element, and I told Policeman that I only deal with real mayinja’s. To that, he didn’t argue but simply got up and left. When he left, I smirked at him – you know, one of those “hmm, yeah go get your boss” smirks.

As I waited for the ‘boss’ a number of policemen and women walked in and out of the office and each asked the same question. “Have you seen Affande?” to which the reply was always: “He was here a few minutes ago but he is coming back.”

If I had put some thought into it, it wouldn’t have taken me long to figure out who Affande was and why Taxi Driver had been tugging at my sleeve.

When the boss came back, he was not just the boss but Affande too and his shoulders were no longer bare but reeking with mayinja’s. Resuming his seat behind a relic of a desk that was seemingly brought into Uganda by John Speke back in 1858, he leant forward and said: “You only deal with mayinja’s? I am the OC Traffic mayinja here!” By now the smirk had gone and short of offering him my female cousins who are still single, I humbled and grovelled for forgiveness.

Affande did eventually forgive me but after he had made me sit in his office for the best part of four hours and on the most solid and uncomfortable wooden chair which again, must have brought into Uganda by Speke in 1858.

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