One of the peculiarities of Nigerians is that we keep doing our best to localize global or foreign phenomenon into our own suitable mode either negatively or positively. Unfortunately, most of it is often negative although several factors such as, available resources, mental capacity, level of experience, professionalism, cultures and traditions among many others usually influence this effect. We localized things to the extent of giving them a name and if we couldn’t get suitable name then the prefix ‘Nigeria or Nigerian’ as the case may be will be added.
One of the many things we have localized into our own version is TIME, or as we often call it, AFRICAN TIME. Many a times, when a meeting is scheduled, it is often followed by the caution note “NO AFRICAN TIME” especially when it pertains to special and or important events. For example, it is not uncommon to hear people say “we are meeting by 8 pm, please o no African time.”
This type of localized timing called African Time has a Negative influence because if not so the caution No African Time which means don’t come late or behind the scheduled time, won’t be added after announcing the actual time of events. Though tardiness might also be happening in other countries but we have so much imbibed the culture by giving it our own name.
While wondering what could actually be the cause of this African Time tradition, I came to realized that if the people involved in an event or programme are not really benefiting directly or don’t have anything at stake should they come at African Time, they tend to imbibe the culture but if it is the other way round, you will see them at the announced time in fact some will even come before the commencement of the event, a typical example is Job Interview or when some political parties want to share money or sometimes doctor’s appointment or the event is related to foreign countries, among many others.
Looking at where the fault is coming from, I realized that some organizers of events or programmes, also try to announce extra time so that people can show up before the actual time. Although this might be as a result of bad experience with people coming late to past events but then what about those that have chosen to be punctual as stipulated? This act will merely discourage them and force them to imbibe the African Time culture. Looking at it critically and unbiased both parties involved have their own fault in promoting the African Time Syndrome.
Another reason event planners or hosts tends to announce upfront extra time is because of the probability of getting the resources needed for the event ready. That being said, it is important to note that some institutions however always stick to their announced time, no matter what, they have disciplined themselves to always start their meetings at exactly the time announced and people who have known them for this often arrive at the meeting on time.
Definitely, the issue is not about coming on time but it seems we just choose to thread the path of African Time because the same person that is fund of tardiness also keeps up with the actual timing on the day of job interview. This actually connotes our indolent attitudes towards some things. It is very understandable if there is genuine lateness which can also happen on job interview day especially in cases of unforeseen circumstances that are not deliberate.
It is glaring that this culture of African time has more of negative influence on us than positive which to an extent affects us generally as a nation, if everybody could try and abide by the giving time, it will be very good and the effect will show. The event planner or host announcing the actual time and the participants also arriving at the actual time will make everything smooth.
The task of getting this done is on both parties involved and even if one party refuses to corporate, the other should still choose to stick to time. By the time they see you do that consistently, they won’t have choice than to adjust to the right thing. This can be achieved only by discipline and determination.
In fact, we can reverse the meaning of African Time from tardiness to punctuality which will give the name a positive connotation instead of negative.
You can turn African Time to a positive phenomenon!