Being on time is something many Africans are not familiar with. Though this might sound demeaning and somewhat offensive, it is the reality we have to face.
I recently attended a friend’s gusaba, which is one of Rwanda’s most respected ceremonies whereby the soon-to-be husband comes to claim his bride from her home. So this happened to be one of my friend’s biggest days.
Being ‘African’ myself, I waited to start preparing to leave home and attend the Gusaba minutes before 2 p.m., when the ceremony was supposed to begin.
I did everything in a rush so as not be late but despite my efforts I arrived thirty minutes late. I however discovered that there were many people who arrived after I did.
Despite the fact that the ceremony that was supposed to start at 2 p.m., many people started arriving an hour or two later and because the ceremony cannot start without the invited guests, the ceremony was pushed to 4 p.m.
The worst thing about all this is the fact that occurrences like this one aren’t a rarity but, rather, a frequent. This is giving a bad reputation for Africans; Rwandans aren’t immune to this censure.
One will find out that there are three types of ‘late-comers’.
The first group involves those that are always late because they are not good at planning and always think they have more time than they actually do.
The second is the type one would mostly find amongst high government officials and company employees in leadership positions; they are always late because they can never say “no” to an additional commitment because to them time is money and every appointment they can squeeze in counts.
That is why when you have an appointment with one of them, and you arrive early or on time, they are never in their offices.
The third and most interesting group involves those who are intentionally late.
These ones are always late- they are late by a ‘fashonable’ 10, 20, 30 minutes. Many people going to certain ceremonies like weddings and fetes feel that the need to be ‘cool’ doesn’t allow them to be as time conscious as the ‘normal’ crowd.
The main issue that this late coming causes, among other results, is the fact that being late upsets the others who arrived on time.
The late comer also often feels embarrassed, insecure, worried, and stressed which leads to feelings of unease throughout the first minutes of the event.
Despite all that, the most demeaning thing about being late is the reputation one sets for him or herself. It leads to people not trusting the constantly late person and not taking them seriously.
The bad reputation that comes along with being constantly late is demeaning to a nation like ours, which is attempting to be exemplary.
The solution is that that everyone should make it their personal mission to make sure that they are time conscious.