CUSTOMER CARE: by Sandra idossou

Should we accept the ‘Rwandan time’ or ‘African Time’? “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can send it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back” says Harvey Mackay, an American author and inspirational speaker.

Should we accept the ‘Rwandan time’ or ‘African Time’?

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can send it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back” says Harvey Mackay, an American author and inspirational speaker.

In Rwanda and in most African countries many of us have comforted ourselves in the idea that keeping time cannot be respected in Africa.

The issue of punctuality and time management is a pertinent one. Most people are late for almost every appointment. No function starts on time and the excuse I often hear is “this is Rwandan time” or “this is African time”.

I must admit that I hate this excuse as it turns out to degrade our values and our culture. I have never read anywhere that Africans can’t be civilized enough to respect time keeping.

I am an African and I hate to be late. I hate being at functions that do not start on time. I hate having to waste my precious time waiting for people to turn up late.

Time is always time and should be accorded the same value regardless of the place. Why can’t we be on time? Why can’t we respect deadlines? Why can’t we respect people we give them appointments?

The on-line Wikipedia says, “African time is a colloquial term used to describe a perceived cultural tendency, in some parts of Africa, toward a more relaxed attitude to time. This is sometimes used in a pejorative sense, about tardiness in appointments, meetings and events”

“The term is also sometimes used to describe the more leisurely, relaxed and less rigorously scheduled lifestyle found in these countries, especially as opposed to the more hectic, clock-bound pace of daily life in Western countries.”

Time is a precious thing and any minute wasted implies a loss on productivity and thus other implications which might be financial.

Punctuality is the habit of doing things exactly in time. Punctuality is common courtesy. Being punctual should be part and parcel of a person’s attitude.

I am simply hoping for days when lateness can make people lose business, sales or even cost some their jobs. I am hoping for days when people arriving late will realize that the meetings and functions have been done without their presence.

If you are always late, it shows that you are lazy disorganized, not focused, indiscipline, unreliable, uncommitted, inconsistent, sluggish and have an “I-don’t-care-attitude”.

Africa, in spite of her rich resources still remains poor because of the way we deal wit time. Time doesn’t mean money for Africans. So how can we be rich when we do not consider our precious time?

Rwandans and Africans in general need to learn time management and punctuality. It is high time Africans realize that keeping time does not only show respect but it also tells a lot about a person’s integrity.

sandra.idossou@sheiconsulting.com

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