Africa Has Time

The rest of the world has watches, but Africa has time. We’re never late to events; just not early enough (except for our babies who are born prematurely and our senior citizens who die promptly in their 40s). In Africa, a simple “hello” or welcome is an elaborate ritual. We borrow generously from other’s scheduled appointments and spend hours to introduce speakers at functions. Output is based on activity not productivity, and work slated for completion forever ago are still undergoing construction. There are no price tags nor expiry dates on products we sell. Our leaders are presidents for life, and funerals last for months. Time is not such a big deal, so we’re calm and laidback. The only pressure is the annoying crowing of the rooster, reminding us each morning that Africans don’t really have time.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

[NOTE: The above nugget was excerpted from the full version below. Be blessed–and challenged.—SKP]

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AFRICA HAS TIME (Full Version)

The rest of the world has watches, but Africa has time. We’re never late to events; just not early enough (except for our babies who are born prematurely and our senior citizens who die promptly in their 40s). We borrow generously from other’s scheduled appointments and spend hours to introduce speakers at functions.

Africa has time. So, a simple “hello” or welcome is an elaborate ritual, and a task of five minutes easily takes 3-7 days. Output is based on activity not productivity, while work slated for completion forever ago are still undergoing construction.

Though never in hurry, we don’t believe in wasting time. Our effective use of time enhances economic growth. For example, traffic delays and winding detours encourage local tourism by allowing us do some sight-seeing of the same old sights. And the bumpy roads actually provide free massages and physical therapies, thus saving us hefty hospital bills.

Since our culture believes in body art, in Africa, watches are for decoration, not for time-keeping. Also, our cultural concept of “African time” allows us to arrive at meetings late—and when we eventually arrive, we start the meeting late, and end late. Good meetings are endless repetitions of the same things and echoes of what others have already said. Forget about the annoying sound that keeps ticking on the expensive, gold-plaited and diamond-jeweled Western watches on our wrists. They’re not to tell us time, for we have better reminders of time…

Because Africa has time, expiry dates on food and health products don’t really expire (after all, they are not valid, they’re merely artistic decorations). And in the hospitals, we can afford to wait long hours to see the doctor. The worst that can happen is to be “called to glory” to spend much more time— eternity—with our Maker. And in the event of that, we can spare months in funerals, a mere short period when compared with how much time we already have—and will eventually have.

Our politicians celebrate our wonderful democracy by high-sounding campaign promises that only those who live as old as Methuselah will enjoy. And because we have so much time our leaders want to be presidents for life. Thanks to rigging ballots replacing ripping bullets–and, in recent times, changing national constitutions to allow our democratically elected politicians stay in power till they die.

Our media, grateful for the freedom of the press, maximize prime time by educating us on the usefulness of frivolities and non-issues. Why shouldn’t they? Our citizens seldom read, for they wisely spend the time watching movies or European football. And, oh, we even offer free adult education on radio by running live commentaries in our local languages for those who have no TVs to watch soccer matches between their favorite European teams.

Our markets and shops have no fixed prices on goods, hence we spend part of our time bargaining for right prices. But no need to worry, we learn the skills of haggling early enough by observing how our careful drivers constantly negotiate with some of our honest police officers at road checkpoints.

Because we have time, our college and university professors can afford to catwalk to their lecture halls to teach. And it’s perfectly okay on arrival for them to utilize the time to read from the worn-out lecture notes passed down by the colonial masters. Students in turn reward their teachers by regurgitating for them what they’ve devoted time to digest.

With so much time available, why would we need to sleep during the night? After all, religious groups help us utilize our wakeful moments by an endless supply of free, high decibel drumming, praise songs, dance, prayers, and regular prayer vigils. Should we ever feel a need to sleep during day time, no problem; we can always borrow the time while we’re at work—where we spend the time sleeping. Yes, sleeping at work! Why not? We need to catch up on sleeping time so we can continue the all-night vigils which are part of the 40-day fasting and prayer. Never mind, we can always add additional time, extending the 40-day fast by two more weeks.

Did I forget to mention that, whereas some countries keep time, in Africa we actually own the time? Yes we do. In fact, Africa is the only continent that has an eighth day of the week. We call it “Someday,” the day we actually get most of our work done.

Because time is not such a big deal, we’re calm and laidback. The only pressure we have is the annoying crowing of the rooster, reminding us each morning that Africans don’t really have time.

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© By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD, is a US-based Ghanaian author, inspirational speaker, leadership trainer, and advocate for youth empowerment. He promotes “mind liberation” as the basis for social and spiritual change. He is the co-author of “The Transformed Mind: Changing the World by Being Changed.” His other books on Africa are: “Africa Must Think” and “The African Giant.” You can read his weekly thought nuggets at: http://eaglesonline.org/resources/weekly-nuggets/nuggets-archives/

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