In Summary
  • My Ugandan father, John Nagenda, is a great example of that, he was often before time on appointments and saw no excuse good enough if I arrived late. Our friend Frederick Golooba, is another example, he often bitterly complained about the culture of being late. Every hour in his busy days was planned, and it was a great test for his patience every time someone showed up late.

I can write thousands of words about the concept of time, and how it is perceived in different parts of the world. Is it truly a concept that makes or breaks the advancement of nations?

Growing up in the Middle East, I always heard a famous saying: Time is like a sword, if you do not cut it, it will cut you” also that: “time is like gold”. However, the clock seemed to be ticking somehow in a more relaxed way, and with it the lifestyle. It is mostly about “God willing, I will be there in 20 minutes”. Often 20 minutes turns to many more, but because it is a common event, one seems to get used to it.

However, I wonder why in schools teachers were punishing students when they arrived late to school! I also wonder why the punishment was not helping with respecting time in later stages of life.

Living in Europe took me to the other extreme of how time mattered, and with missing a few trains in Germany that left exactly on time, lessons of discipline were quickly learnt. People profusely apologising for arriving even a few minutes late, was a new phenomenon, it was time to learn this new way of life.

Although these days things have changed a bit in Europe, the issue of arriving on time for an appointment, even if you have to wait a bit, remains a strong culture.
Living in Uganda brought a new dimension of time-related matters. It took me a while to understand why everyone, including the Ugandans, where talking about two types of timing, African time and European time. I first heard it between two friends setting an appointment and I thought it was a joke.

As time went by, it seemed that people were really associating being late versus arriving on time with a cultural mode of thinking. I was uncomfortable with the idea of labelling everyone the same. Hence when we started having more Ugandan friends, it was a great relief to find out that many where not only appreciating the value of time, but strictly abiding by it.

My Ugandan father, John Nagenda, is a great example of that, he was often before time on appointments and saw no excuse good enough if I arrived late. Our friend Frederick Golooba, is another example, he often bitterly complained about the culture of being late. Every hour in his busy days was planned, and it was a great test for his patience every time someone showed up late.

At some point we realise that time does not wait for anyone. The moment that is gone is a loss if not used to its best, this is such a good therapy for moving on from negative aspects, to create absolutely positive times.