Senegalese Time : The Rant

I am a patient person. I do my best to keep cool, I don’t get into arguments, and I keep my word. But nothing pushes my buttons more than when someone disrespects my time. Let me explain:

Today, I wasted almost 8 hours waiting for one person to give me one thing. What this person was supposed to give me was very important for my career and I have a deadline so I really had no choice but to wait. The waiting would not have been a problem if he had just told me the right time. You see, he told me 2:00 PM (14h00). He kept saying “just 30 more minutes. . .” In my mind, he’s talking about normal time, but no! He’s was talking “Senegalese time.”

Confused yet?. . .

I’ve heard of “African time” but I can’t say exactly what it means because it’s different in each country. For us Senegalese, we have something called “Senegalese time” which I know all too well.

In most places around the world, when you tell someone “I’ll meet you at 1:00 AM (13h00)”, you really mean 1:00 AM. But in Senegal, when someone says 1 o’clock, they mean 2 o’clock. Heck, even 3! When they say that they’ll meet you in 30 minutes, they really mean in an hour or an hour and a half. When someone says “I’m leaving my house right now,” they are probably still in their pajamas.

The whole “time is money” mantra hasn’t really set into the Senegalese way of thinking yet. Here, time is something that you have and you do whatever you want with it. No stress! That’s the Senegalese way. This is why someone who is supposed to start working at 8 in the morning, will show up to work at 8:30, eat breakfast, and then start at 9. And they wonder why they get fired?. . .humm, I wonder why?

Time is a gift and with every gift comes a responsibility. Time is precious and every minute that I wait for someone is a minute of my life that I will never get back. Every minute wasted is a part of my existence thrown out the window. If you are doing your own things, that’s cool. Take your time because it’s yours. But when someone else is depending on you, it becomes your duty to try and respect that person’s time.

Take a look at the more developed countries around the world and you will find a pattern: time is crucial and respected. Trains and buses are scheduled and, for the most part, on time. People rush to get to work on time and coming to work five minutes late is unacceptable. If you are 30 minutes late to a meeting, that meeting is probably over (or cancelled).

In order to develop ourselves and our country, we need to respect each other and each other’s time. Things take too long to fix here. We are wasting precious time with unnecessary protocols. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the Senegalese mindset. I love that life here is less stressful and that people have a joie de vivre.That’s what makes this country so charming and lovable. Like I said, if you are flying solo, then do you boo. But sometimes, it’s better to just throw “Senegalese time” out the window.


  1. Zambian Lady · January 20, 2015

    I must admit that I rarely used to keep time and would sometimes even just not show up. Since this was a day before cell phones, there was no way someone could check if I was going to be there. I look back at this and shudder. I have changed since moving to the west and have seen the advantages of keeping time. I now prefer arriving at least five minutes before even if it means I have to wait before the meeting.

    My wake-up call came when I told my parents some years ago that I would spend my day off with them. Unfortunately, I was asked to work on an urgent project and only got to my parents’ place at about 5.00 pm (before they had cell phones, so I could not tell them that I would be late). My niece who lived with my parents had given up but my parents assured her that something was holding me up and I would be there because I always kept my word. I know I should not have been surprised about their confidence in me, but was surprised at the power of my word. From then on, I keep my word as far as is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afrominded · January 20, 2015

      That’s awesome. I feel the same way. I never give my word if I fear that I can’t keep it though. I’m pretty good at keeping time now. Since moving to Senegal, I’ve realized that I sometimes underestimate how much time it takes to get around so I usually come earlier. Since people know that about me now, they usually tend to try to come early as well when they are supposed to meet me. But sometimes, when I’m working with a group of people, they think that since i’ll be in time then they can come whenever they want and i’ll just fill them in. . .ppffttt lol


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