The concept has become a key self-criticism in modern Africa. According to one Ghanaian writer,
One of the main reasons for the continuing underdevelopment of our country is our nonchalant attitude to time and the need for punctuality in all aspects of life. The problem of punctuality has become so endemic that lateness to any function is accepted and explained off as "African time.
In October 2007, an Ivorian campaign against African time, backed by President Laurent Gbagbo, received international media attention when an event called "Punctuality Night" was held in Abidjan to recognize business people and government workers for regularly being on time. The slogan of the campaign is "'African time' is killing Africa - let's fight it." Reuters reported that "organizers hope to heighten awareness of how missed appointments, meetings or even late buses cut productivity in a region where languid tardiness is the norm." It was remarked that this year's winner, legal adviser Narcisse Aka--who received a $60,000 villa in recognition of his punctuality--"is so unusually good at being punctual that his colleagues call him 'Mr White Man's Time'.
There's a fine line between the proverbial "African time" and being disrespectfully late. And not everyone knows how to walk it. The organisers of the launch of image consultant Thula Zaca's boutique, Image Collezion, certainly erred when the event that was meant to kick off at 6pm hobbled haplessly to a start at, wait for it, 9pm - three hours late.
May 13, 2012; There's a fine line between the proverbial "African time" and being disrespectfully late. And not everyone knows how to walk it....