Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Quote of the Day: If you complain about the world moving too fast, slow down. ~ Mike Dolan
Time is different here. As you might expect in a third-world country, extreme poverty means that almost no one is able to wear a watch or have a clock in their house. The proliferation of cell phones has helped in this regard, but not much. You see, Tanzania is an event-driven culture and not a time-driven one. If you are one or two hours late that just doesn't matter as long as you show up. It is not showing up that is the insult, and this is partly because people don't have watches or clocks and have to walk everywhere or use public transportation that is routinely unreliable. People here have learned to wait without forming ulcers or stressing out. Another element is that time is not counted here as elsewhere. In fact, they tell time here the same way the folks in Jesus' time did. Seven A.M is "one" here referring to the first hour after sunrise. The sun always comes up between six and seven every single day, so they start counting with "one" at seven, "two" at eight and so on. In the New Testament, Christ is said to have died on the cross at the ninth hour or what is three P.M. to us. This has caused quite a few misunderstandings when we are told something starts at three and we show up in the afternoon only to discover everything is over because it started at "three" which was nine A.M. Add these things to the fact that everything here is pretty laid back, and you see how many Americans have difficulty adjusting. If you know about the "mañana" culture of South America and how slow that is, then imagine the same thing but without that urgency and you have Tanzania. Two of their favorite sayings are "Hakuna Haraka" (don't hurry here) and "Haraka, Haraka, Hyena Baraka" (those who hurry lose all of their blessings), so you see how it is. We just move more slowly here, but everything gets done all the same. Welcome to our world.