Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Monday, 17 May 2010

Familiar faces that torment

I have a relative who spent several weeks, without success, attempting to identify a woman who visited her after my relative's husband died. Recounting the incident, she recalls, "When she came to pay her condolences, I knew it was someone I knew very well, but I just could not recall who it was."

After several weeks of reflection and memory jolting exercises, she recounts, she identified the elderly woman as her brother's mother-in-law!

I experienced a similar incident, only that mine, lasted a few minutes. While attending the Zimbabwe Harmonized elections in 2008 I, and a few colleagues from the media, were milling around a hotel in Bulawayo (or was it Harare?) following developments of election results when I saw a familiar face among the crowd.

I notified my colleagues and pointed to the person who I felt certain I had seen in my neighborhood of Upanga in Dar es Salaam. I even pictured myself having crossed paths with him walking past where I lived. One of my colleagues immediately pointed out that it was Kamahl Santamaria, a presenter of Al Jazeera TV. I was lucky I was among a group of journalists, otherwise I believe it would have taken me a long time to recognize that familiar face.

Recently at Mwanza, someone stopped me and engaged me in conversation:

You look familiar. Are you from around here?
No. I don't live here.
Are you from Dar?
No, I am not from Dar.
I am sure I know you from somewhere.
I think you may have confused me with someone else.

In all likelihood, he may have seen my photograph on my column in the Sunday News, Letter from Butiama, or he could have seen my face in some newspaper. Having lived through the unpleasant experience of being unable to identify a familiar face I did something I rarely do: I identified myself to him. Seeing the relief on his face, I knew I had saved him a few days or weeks of a persistent curiosity to identify a familiar face.


o'Wambura Ng'wanambiti! said...

Yes! It happens sometimes!

And curiosity kills, no?


Alli said...

- but on the flip side of the coin, you may not know the person or the face has something familiar however with that small uncertainty. You strike up a conversation you may have just made a new friend with someone who a moment before was a stranger...