Sunday, April 13, 2008

The White People's Guide to Development (TWPGtD) #3 revisited

If you recall TWPGtD #3 was "Learn the Pace of the Culture." Today, Chris Blattman concisely summarizes a recent thread on the subject opened by the BBC, entitled African Time. I highly recommend you read both the thread and his post on the subject (which is really just a summary).

The question is:

Should we kill off African time ?

How many hours have you spent waiting around for people who are late? How many times have they eventually arrived, be it for an evening out or a business meeting, and instead of apologising, they've laughed it off and said "I thought we were going on African time"?

Africa has a bad reputation for time-keeping. African philosopher John S. Mbiti thinks the concept of time for Africans differs from that of the western world. Why is that?

Do you think this relaxed attitude to time is healthier and less stressful? Or is it holding Africa back? Is it part of our makeup to take things easy and not let the clock govern our lives? Send us your views.

My favorite response is:
Africa time is...waiting 30 years for a leadership change, waiting 20 days for a suspicious vote count, waiting months and years for SADC and the AU to condemn a dictator among their ranks, waiting for half a million Darfurians to die before sending in the peace keepers, waiting until a country has been bankrupted before taking action, waiting, watching, starving. Time to do something?

Read the rest of the comments here.

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