Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living on African Time

Living on African Time

One thing that I found very interesting about South Africa, and from what I’ve been told, Africa in general, is their use of time. You will figure it out pretty quick what I mean, but just to give a heads up here are a few tips. If you hear any of the following phrases, be prepared for what you think they mean, and what Africans really mean.

Our guide on Robben Island did the best job of explaining this to our group. He asked if any of us could differentiate the meaning of the terms and explained to us that if you get sick and need a doctor, Africa isn’t the best place to be. And if it was urgent, be wary of what your doctor says when it comes to him helping you. It will make sense after you read below…maybe. Probably not though.

1. Now - to any American this means I’ll get to that right when I’m done with what I’m currently doing or possibly I‘ll get to that immediately. To Africans, that could mean 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days. More than likely, if you hear this you need to press them to get on it “now” if it’s actually something you want done. We heard this phrase probably a dozen times before we realized what was taking place.

2. Just now - to most Americans, if not all, just now is a past tense phrase. As in, “I just now did that.” To Africans, it is somehow future tense. And by future, I mean….future, like way in the future. Basically, if someone says “just now” what they mean is, I don’t really care what you need or want or offered. If sometime in the future I decide I care, I’ll do that “just now.” Make sense? Didn’t think so.

3. Now, now - this is your best friend in Africa when it comes to getting things done. If someone says “now, now” then they literally mean, “now, now.” As opposed to “now” or “just now.” Which basically means never. But now, now, seems to affirm that they are actually going to do what they said they would do. You’ll be very happy when you finally get a “now, now” after so many “just now’s” and “now’s.” It will all make sense once it happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment