Six years ago, I was in my office, minding my own business. Then my phone rang, impatiently.There was no caller ID. But I was pretty sure it wasn’t Stevie Wonder just calling to say he loved me.So I didn’t pick it up. Still, the phone kept calling like a voice lost in the wilderness.
On and on it went, like President Museveni’s rule. Until, I decided to pick up the phone.Some American guy’s voice crackled to life across the line, “Philip….I have a deal for you to cut worth $400,000 (about Shs1.5b). We are opening a hotel in Sierra Leone and we need you to append your signature as our lawyer. Are you busy?”
My eyeballs instantly flew out of their sockets. Then, I looked around the room to see if the caller was talking to me or somebody behind me. Was this really my phone or I had died and gone to millionaire heaven?The guy on the other end of the line kept talking, as my eyes grew into dollar-signs and I visualised two homes in Kololo and one in Nakasero, right next door to State House. I imagined the President and me sharing a washing line which stretched across our shared wall.
After a few minutes, I came back to my senses. Then, I listened carefully to find out whether the person calling thought it was April Fool’s Day in December. According to the caller’s explanation, I was some hotshot lawyer who had been cutting deals for him as frequently as cats hide their droppings.That is when it struck me: this was a case of mistaken identity.
Because I was no lawyer, and my CV agreed.However, sensing a cash opportunity, I decided that I was a lawyer with a fictitious law partner, who could fictitiously represent me as “I was away on business”. “Could I send my partner over to complete the signing?” I asked the caller. My plan was clear: call a real lawyer who would cut the deal and give me a cut of the cut. “No. We need you Philip. Why are you so reluctant? There’s a big slice of the pie in it for you?” the caller persisted.Of course, I realised, if I showed up, he would realise Philip wasn’t “Philip” at all; but was an impersonator called Philip. I mean, the only law I knew was my brother-in-law. What was my next move? I decided to tell the truth by saying I was not the Philip in question. The caller promptly hung up. Three weeks later, I get another call. “The visa is ready,” the anonymous caller declared, with an American accent.
This time, I took a quizzical look at my glass of beer. And then at the phone, as frown lines formed on my brow.Again, I listened up and this time the American guy on the other end of the line said he wanted to meet me because my visa was ready!At the time, I had never applied for a visa of any kind and so I just listened. “….Could we meet, counsel?” the caller finally asked.Evidently, even this American guy thought I was a lawyer!I told him I’d call him back.So I hung up and thought hard. A voice inside me then commanded me to “Get that visa!” as I imagined relaxing on Miami Beach in America as the word “heaven” expanded above me.
In this movie, I’d would surely never die. Ever. The American guy and I then agreed to meet at the Sheraton Hotel, at 6pm on the button.I thus planned to arrive at The Sheraton by 5pm, to make sure there were no other Philips who could take my visa. To sound lawyerly, as this American guy thought he was meeting a “counsel”, I mentally rehearsed being an advocate by stringing together a number of forthwiths, wherefores and heretofores.
In between such legalese, I planned to mention “misprision of treason” to finish him off with my legal skills. Also, as I dramatised my legal opinions in my head, I imagined his eyes widening to fried eggs as he took in all the made-up nonsense I dished out.In my head, this is how I thought the meeting would proceed: Me: Hello, ad litem…let us take a seat, with no affidavits. “Wow!” the American would chime, “You’re ma’ lawyer!” However, in my daydream, I thought I heard “Yo Momma…”So I replied: ‘Yo Momma is so dumb she tried to use a Facebook thread to sew you a T-shirt that your friends would comment favourably on!”
Quickly awakening from my daydream, I decided to leave my place in Kisaasi so I could rendezvous at the Sheraton. But I suddenly found myself falling into a manhole! Inside this manhole was a very judgmental man: “You must be an idiot to fall into a manhole in broad daylight,” he said. Shocked, I asked him what he called a judgmental man who is stuck at the bottom of a manhole. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Man-holier-than-thou!” The guy just stared at me.
According to the caller’s explanation, I was some hotshot lawyer who had been cutting deals for him as frequently as cats hide their droppings. That is when it struck me: this was a case of mistaken identity. Because I was no lawyer, and my CV agreed. However, sensing a cash opportunity, I decided that I was a lawyer with a fictitious law partner