The thing with Appearances

I had my first opportunity to physically meet a witch-doctor, presented to me in the early 2000s by the demanding forces of reality that sought to enlighten  and tutor me in a key element of human behavior.

A neighbor at the time had for long boasted that she had a wizard for a brother and we had never believed her in consideration of the many times she’d lied to us.

But that afternoon after confirming that she would be home, she’d invited us to actually verify her claim and put the mistrust to rest.

My impression and that of many of my playmates on how  medicine men actually looked  had been drawn from the surface of what was shown in Nollywood movies and a few books like the Chronicles of Narnia and the Grimm’s fairy tales that I’d read in primary two.

A witch or wizard as a logo of their trade had to be old (both the person and their clothes), pale, look scary and most important of all possess white or black paint marks all over their face for easy identification.

But that day standing in the crowded corridor as my neighbor walked in holding the hands of a light skinned man who wore a grey three buttoned jacket that neatly kept his well ironed white Kanzu at bay, I had never been disappointed in my life.

He had no feathers, flying broomstick or even a leopard skin head band; instead his face bore a distinct handsomeness about it that made the scar just below his forehead irrelevant.

I wanted to shout “fraud” at him but I was too shocked that I just stared and took his presence in, I was so engrossed in studying him that I didn’t flinch  as he pulled a couple of éclairs out of his jacket pocket and distributed  them to the my playmates.

The heavens had at the expense of hurting my fragile ego offered me a valid lesson but I never really took it serious till I finally grew up.

More than ten years later, after numerous experiences with similar themes, I could only attest to one truth; “appearances can be deceiving”.

But I wasn’t alone in figuring this out; long before I ever realized this fact, Kampala con-men and fraudsters had believed in this gospel and given fraud a smart look.

In 2005(if my memory serves me right), a cousin of mine was duped into buying what appeared to be diamond crystals from a smart gentleman who drove a Rav4; only it turned out to someone’s broken windshield, In his account he told us a rich man had robbed him.

The fact is human behavior is a very complicated phenomenon that is not helped particularly by the fact that “people are more what they hide than what they show” as Pravinee Hurbungs had once said

If people got married to the versions of their partners that they met on first dates, then am certain, divorce attorneys would run out of business, but it’s never the case.

Behind the well-crafted, almost perfect person is a jar of well hidden shortcomings and flaws that are only revealed in the hands of time.

The same applies to job interviews where the guy who turns up in a nice neatly pressed suit which projects the appearance of a neat and responsible person clinches a job ahead of the less elegantly dressed gentleman who might have better ideas but unfortunately for him, the blue five buttoned jacket and mismatched grey pants don’t say much for his ideas.

it’s the appearances we project to others that sell our brands to people, help us create lasting relationships and set us apart from everyone and it’s my opinion that it wouldn’t cost us a shilling, if we took our time to judge and avoided coming to conclusions before careful scrutiny.


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