The Tragedy of “African Time”

The Tragedy of “African Time”

Over the years, Africa has been plagued with a chronic malady instituted in the minds of its people. The high disregard for time and the lackadaisical attitude behind the default in time consensus is alarming. The mindset of arriving minutes or even hours later than pre-agreed has been subtly built into the mental residence of the African people. An average African will never keep to the time, earlier agreed upon, but instead go by the so-called slogan – “it is African time”. My question now is, what is this “African time”?

African time is an erroneous ideology that incorporates in it a disregard for the significance of time. It is an ideology that creates the spirit of irresponsibility meditated in the soul of procrastination and revealed in the body of lateness. “African time” is simply a slogan that  unveils the retrogressive mentality of the African people as Algaswhyneh and Basri (2015) puts it that people’s loss are more pronounced when time is wasted intentionally. Hence, the reason for the loss or retrogression of the African continent. 

Time is one of the most essential resources of life that when misused cannot be regained neither can it be saved for the future. Alwan and Ahmied (2009) had this to say, time is an opportunity to achieve set goals and objectives if used judiciously and could also be a means to failure if wasted. This implies the double-edgedness of the sword of time. Given these statements, one factor responsible for the slow pace of growth and development in the African continent is this issue of time. Africans fail to understand that negligence in keeping to time for a particular event will of a certainty have a ripple effect on the arranged schedule of other events for that day which could spill over into the next day and continues like a chain.  Now, when the achievement of set goals and objectives of an individual are on a go-slow combined with that of other individuals, we discover that the macro entity becomes unable to achieve its set goals and objectives at a fast pace. Thus, a reason for the slow progress being achieved in Africa.

Taking a cursory look at the continentality of advanced nations, one identifiable similar characteristics is the high value placed on time. The high esteem being placed on pre-agreed time for rendezvous or events translates into the positivity seen in their respective nations. It is no surprise that Africa is way behind them because of poor value for time. 

For Africa to experience rapid progress, individuals both leaders and followers must pay respect to the factor of time, put on the garment of responsibility that kicks away procrastination and avoids lateness. Events at all levels should no longer commence later than stated even in the scantiness of attendees. These of course would not translate into positivity suddenly but if consistently executed would re-shapen the mindset of Africans and consequently produce positive results. 

African time is not a positive ideology but an erroneous one that promotes irresponsibility which ultimately translates into failure both at the micro and macro levels. Therefore, the term “African time” should not be seen as a casual or common societal parlance but a societal psychological disease worthy of eradication. Hence, the formulation of the topic, “the tragedy of African time.”


Alghaswyneh, O. F., & Basri, W. S. (2015). The role of time management and its impact on students’ academic achievement: A case (students at Northern Borders University). International Research Journal of Finance and Economics, 136, 118-125.  

Alwan, Q.N., & Ahmid, N. R. (2009). Time management: Concepts-operations and applications. Amman, Jordan: DarAl-Thaqafa. 

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