I have often heard announcement of programs, where when it got to the scheduled time, the announcer goes like “ the program shall commence at 10:00 AM, not African time, “obroni de3no bi”.
Sometimes we laugh over it but considering the fact that this has become a canker in our fabric, it necessitates a cause of worry. It seems our counterparts in the Western world have a different culture when it comes to managing their time.
Most of our Western friends will keep to time for appointments and programs. This undoubtedly has contributed immensely to their great rate of development. It has gained for them the niche “the White man’s time”.
The issue gets more worrying when a program scheduled to last for 2 hours end up being 5 hours. When this happens, it distorts the plans and activities of serious minded and productive people.This contributes to the reason why some people would want to wait and turn up for programs late, knowing that the program or meeting will be prolonged anyway.
It’s interesting how people feel very normal and comfortable even when they are late for programs and meetings.This disrespect for time spans all sectors of our society, from our churches, to public service, to social gatherings. The punctual minority only complain and suffer since they are almost always the victims.
This “African time” menace is worrying, unfortunate, discouraging and unproductive.
However, all hope is not lost. Like many others, I believe there can still be a new crop of Africans who will not kowtow to this menace and rather respect and keep their integrity to time. In tackling this “African time” issue, I believe we need, as a people, a collective change of mentality, perception and attitude to time. We need to appreciate time as a valuable resource God has endowed mankind with.Program organizers must start defying the fear of not getting enough people at their programs and rather stick to the scheduled time they give in their invites, posters, letters, among others.The mentality that in Africa, we don’t respect time must be done away with.
The perception that when they say 9:00 AM they actually mean 10:00AM must stop.If this will be enforced, then Pastors, Ministers of State, Directors, Managers, Heads of various institutions and Departments, including everyone in leadership must be willing to set the pace by beginning scheduled programs and meetings on time. If this happens, gradually, a deterrent will be served.Every person in any form of leadership position must take responsibility and ensure that time is respected and adhered to at every level.
We all wield a certain extent of influence in one way or the other from the home, to the offices, to the church, among others. Within our small corners,lets enforce punctuality by being examples ourselves, and ensuring that we keep our integrity to time.
My hope is that our announcers of programs will be able to say “the program commences at10:00 AM, and it is AFRICAN TIME”.
Philip Otchere Darko