One of my favorite swahili sayings is:
“Haraka, haraka haina baraka.”
(literal translation: hurry, hurry has no blessing)
There is a strange disease in America which doesn’t seem to exist in Africa…a hurried life. My initial reflection from Nairobi was written during my first few days in which I was a bit jaded. Fortunately, I quickly found that apart from the paved roads, city traffic, and electricity, Nairobi is not so different from Beni…
African cultures are all distinct and I’m certainly not trying to say otherwise. There is, however, one commonality I’ve observed among various places throughout East Africa: the concept of TIME
- In Africa, time is relaxed, elastic, open. Africans view time as flexible. Time is dependent upon man. *In practical terms, this means that if you go to a village where a meeting is scheduled for the afternoon but find no one at the appointed spot, asking, “When will the meeting take place?” makes no sense. You know the answer. “It will take place when people come.”
The great benefit to this concept is that Africans embrace each moment. When they are with you, they’re really with you, focused on you, listening. Africans invest in people.
- In America, time is absolute, fixed, inflexible. Americans are enslaved by it and subject to it. Man is dependent upon time. Life revolves around schedules, deadlines, dates, hours. *An unresolvable conflict exists between man and time, one that always ends with man’s defeat—time annihilates him.
The great tragedy to this concept is that Americans cannot find time for people. They cannot truly enjoy building relationships because they are always distracted by the next item on their agenda, the task they forgot to do, or the networking opportunity about to unfold.
Please, I implore you to start fighting the disease of busyness, hurried lives, and rigid schedules.
Begin today by going slow. When you find yourself hurrying, stop and take a deep breath. Savor every moment. Forget about what you’re doing next, enjoy what you’re doing now.
* Quoted from The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski