Africans in general and Ghanaians in particular are known for their perpetual hobby of being late to public events and even private issues. It’s normal in Ghana (representing Africa in this article) to be about one or two hours late to an important meeting and no one complains. This is sickening and absurd but who cares?
You invite people for a party at 2 pm and the first person to turn up comes at 3.30pm and don’t be surprised to still see people trooping in at 5.30pm when the event closes at 6.00pm. The only time time works in Ghana is when people must turn up for job interviews. Even with that people still come late. This is Africa. Let them secure the job and after the third week of their first month they start showing their real lateness character. Everything is upside down.
As a result of this stupid national time disease it becomes difficult for a lot of Africans to suddenly switch into the Western punctuality when they land in Europe or America. Same applies to some Westerners who are posted to Africa. They turn up “too early” for programmes while their African counterparts snarl in bed. After a year or two they are tempted to behave like their fellow Africans.
I was not amused at all when the US ambassador to Ghana Donald Turtlebaum was this week locked out from a programme in the capital Accra. Hitherto he might have been the first for the programme but thanks to a “fragile crusade” by Ghana’s President Mills to encourage Ghanaians to change their attitude to time. (Judging from past experiences such things don’t last. We wait to see)
Since he assumed office he is either the first or among the first to be at a public event. According to a news item, he said punctuality will help draw investors into the country.
“I think that we better do things differently, because…capital will move into the areas where it is most comfortable. And what contributes to the comfort [is] regularity, timeliness, honesty, transparency, etc.,” President Mills told participants at a forum that saw the US rep being seriously late. The diplomat representing the World’s Super Power was disallowed entry into the venue in the midst of several other invited dignitaries and journalists.
President Mills was right by saying that Ghana cannot attract investment if citizens continue to be tardy. Say that again Mr. President. He is a stickler for time and he never shows up late for events. (Hope this is not a nine-day wonder).
A few months ago he warned ministers of state to be punctual for Cabinet meetings. According to myjoyonline.com, sources say most Cabinet meetings start on time. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at the lower levels of governance.
“I feel very disappointed that you should attend such an important programme late; I’m not going to mince words over this, I’m very particular about punctuality and I want to urge my district chief executives,…next time you’re late I’ll ask you to leave,” Poku-Manu, a regional minister admonished a bunch of late local government heads.
Ghanaians must rally behind these time conscious leaders to change the status quo. Yes We Can.