Time, from UG to the US

November 26, 2013

ideagenerationmdp: The change of pace to a more relaxed rhythm was easy to slip into in Uganda. If you tried to hurry, the slow movement of traffic, people and conversation would slow you down. Another expat designer at our studio site said she once was admonished for how fast she was walking on the sidewalk: “Hey! There’s no Rushing in Africa!”

The switch was stark when that pace sped up at airports on our way back to LA. In Amsterdam, a man was eating a sandwich as he quickly walked. Eating didn’t have its own time. I hadn’t seen that for weeks. In NY, the jamming rock music on the airplane as we waited for takeoff was so amped up it was making our heart beats race. As soon as people exited the plane, they rushed in a crowd to … go stand and wait in customs lines.

The differences between Western and African time being much as described in the link above:   

This was written in 1999, but it might give helpful ideas about how Westerners may tend to have fixed, mechanical, “dead time” while Africans may tend to have “lived time” that is dictated by and responds to the forces of nature:

Zamani is the ordered sequence of the events that took place in the life of the world. Sasa is what is now, what are the needs now, and what to do now. Time and reality end now, the future is unreal. There is no future yet. It still is to be made by the interaction of all forces in the world. Once made, it belongs to zamani.”

"It is not at all a bad idea to compare an African business agreement with a Western marriage. You marry when you feel you will roughly get out of your marriage what you wish and expect, but you will not sign a paper on when exactly, for instance, the first, second, etc. baby should be delivered."

"In Kiswahili there is no obvious correspondence to the western expression "I have no time". The closest you come is nilikuwa na nafasi bado (“I did not yet have the opportunity”).”

"Agreements are expressions of one’s needs, one’s capabilities and first of all: friendship.”

MDP: Field