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African time

Different interpretaties regarding the concept of time

· Calendar42,History,workingatC42

One of the previous projects Calendar42’s founders were involved in is Plakkies. A volunteer project which cooperated closely with African countries. Here we learned of the concept of ‘African Time’. A whole different way of interpreting the concept of time. While in western countries we find it particularly important that when we make appointments, we schedule a start and end time (and stick to these times), in cultures where you find 'African Time’ this is considered as (complete and utter) nonsense.

Perhaps you’ll recognize this from one of your holidays: you make an appointment with a tour guide at 9.00 in the morning. You’re eager to see and get to know the country and its culture. After you’ve waited impatiently for an hour and grown ‘a bit’ frustrated, the tour guide finally shows up. When you ask why he is this late, he shrugs and explains that he had to walk all the way after bringing his daughter to school. You still feel frustrated, but you also understand that these things happen sometimes and it’s a holiday after all, so you shake of the feeling to enjoy the rest of your day. Later, you learn that he takes his daughter to school every day at 9 o’clock and can’t afford to travel any other way than by foot… The only thing you can think is, “why the heck did he agree to meet us at 9 in the first place, then?!”. But what you don’t realize is that 9.00 isn’t 9.00 exactly, necessarily, when everyone knows each other’s situation, makes allowances for it and accepts that time is fluid and 9.00 is usually ‘9.00 or as soon as possible after’.

This is a perfect illustration of the big difference between the time awareness of 'African Time’ cultures and western culture.

Calendar42 wouldn’t have existed without African time. We learned about this concept and also learned to not only see the differences in values and way of life, but also notice the shifts that take place, changing the way we live and perceive time. Based on research we can safely state that western countries, more and more, are shifting shift towards a polychromic way of life and drifting away from monochronicity.

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