Genetics is probably one of the most complex yet captivating fields of science in existence. Just think, nature generates a unique amalgamation of cellular structures that expand and replicate to bring forth all manner of creatures and plants each one unique in their own way. Sometimes however, mother nature seems to really get captivated with her handiwork and decides to replicate certain aspects on more than one creature. You have probably seen it, a face, a nose, ears etc. This is expected when it is biologically inherited but sometimes, there are cases of shared features between strangers. Now you are probably wondering, why the science lesson? Well, it does help set the foundation for the tale of the day and an added bonus is that it gave me an excuse to use the word ‘amalgamation’.
A few weeks ago I happened to take a stroll in a local supermarket. It was a normal day with a bit of sunlight and not much was going on. Being a weekend, I was dressed in casual wear; jeans, a t-shirt and a comfy hoodie. I walked in grabbed a basket and slowly made my way through the aisles. After a short time, I began to get the feeling that I was being watched (and no I do not mean by the CCTV). Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that some of the shop attendants seemed to be tailing me. It was actually amusing to a certain degree. I would walk, stop, look back and would hear them quickly shuffling to vanish from view. Once at the stationery section, one of them slowly approached. “Chiloba!” he shouted out.
Surprised by the sudden outburst I looked up and quickly surveyed the area around me. “Chiloba!” He repeated, this time much louder and getting closer. Now for those of you wondering what he was uttering, you should know that he was referring to Ezra Chiloba the CEO of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). A man who currently stands as one of the most controversial figures in the country. Why? Well, you know the recent election that took place in August? Some declared the presence of foul play and deemed the IEBC responsible. A significant portion of the blame is being placed on Chiloba so he is not really the most popular individual in the country right now.
So there I stood, wondering what Chiloba would be doing in a local supermarket and eagerly seeking to get a glimpse of the political black sheep. That was until I noticed that both ends of the aisle I was in had been blocked by attendants and other shoppers. It was then that I realised that the attendant was addressing me as Chiloba. “Wewe ni Chiloba?” He asked (Translation: You are Chiloba?). For some reason, they had mistaken me for him. It could have been the fact that I was wearing a hood over my head but still, I got concerned. Here I was trapped in an aisle with no way out and surrounded by individuals whose intentions were unclear. My civil side was going, “It is a simple case of mistaken identity. Explain that and all will be well”. However, the beast within had one simple goal, “Break a few bones and severe a few jugulars (if you have to) but leave this place alive”. I decided to plan for both eventualities. Seeing as how my hand was already outstretched on the shelf, I slowly edged it to a box of sharpened pencils. If civility failed, I was ready to forge a path by force. I let the basket fall from my other hand, slowly raised it to my head and lowered my hood. No obstructions could be tolerated as a single moment of blindness could mean the difference between life and death. With that done, I was ready.
The shopping attendant closest to me suddenly pulled back in shock on seeing my fully revealed face. It turns out that Chiloba was clean-shaven while I on the other hand was sporting a beard. With that revelation, the crowd quickly dispersed. “Really?” I thought. They were bearing down on me one second and all it took was a bit of facial hair to stop them. The instigator of the whole scenario kept swearing that I bore an uncanny resemblance to him but I highly doubt it. “Of all the people to be mistaken for”, I thought. Why oh why could it not have been a famous, morally upright individual who did not have the wrath of nearly an entire country about to be unleashed on him?