No hurry in Zim

I never once imagined that when I eventually resumed blogging, I would start by griping about what I think has become a badly pervasive culture in Zimbabwe. To the loyal fans who have visited this blog only to find naught, I’ll have you know that I have been quite snowed under with the pressures of school, work and recently a Master thesis that literally just killed my social life. Just this Wednesday I handed in a 118 page thick thesis to the National University of Science & Technology (NUST). Good riddance never felt so good. But I digress.

Will somebody tell me, what is it with events, functions and the like always starting an hour or more behind schedule in Zim? Every public function I have attended in the last quarter, things start an hour or so late. You know what’s even more interesting? People just seem to be ok with it. I used to take for granted the popular quip that ‘there is no hurry in Africa’, but it’s all coming to me now. Just yesterday, I was at the Book Café by 1730hrs (scheduled start time) on the dot for a book launch. One hour and thirty minutes later, nothing had started. I asked the author, what it is we were still waiting for, and she told me squarely that we were waiting for ‘a few more people’. Reflex gag. And what were the 30+ strong crowds of early comers sitting around tables expectantly and sipping on the cheap wine, zombies? I’m sorry, but I find it utterly disrespectful and inconsiderate to keep punctual people waiting for more than an hour, especially without proffering some kind of apology. I think what irked me the most was realization of the fact that for this author, the measure of starting the event was not time but rather, crowd size. Frankly, I think that if people are so crazy about your event, they would not be over an hour late but rather, at least 5 minutes early ahead of schedule. Just saying.

And to think, we were waiting for people we didn’t even know were coming or not, people who probably were already in bed in their homes? No, lets not promote this kind of behavior any further. I believe this is whats partially killing our country – having a lackadaisical approach to things we should take really seriously. As can be imagined, I left in protest. Probably my loss, but I was not about to give two more seconds of my time to discourteous hosts and time wasters. Perhaps I was supposed to understand, since this was, after all, a book launch wherein more numbers of people could translate into more book sales. But I honestly think that sometimes in trying to get more, we lose some in the process. A fine balance is always critical. Exercising the law of two feet is something I have resolved to do now, and I am always courteous enough to check with the host before I leave. Well, except in very special circumstances where either my life or career depends on it..

I opted rather to attend the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) meeting at Crowne Plaza discussing this interesting new concept of election running mates. Unfortunately I failed to make that too because thanks to Harare City council, the section of Park Street leading to the hotel was cordoned off and inaccessible; there seemed to be a lot of digging going on around there too. As to be expected, there was traffic chaos, the kind that just motivates one to just go home and forget whatever it is you wanted to do. What a waste of a perfectly cool evening to be outdoors. Summer is nigh and welcome.

$tash

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4 thoughts on “No hurry in Zim

  1. I have occasionally popped in here and left, disappointed after finding no new material. But it’s good that you’re back and congrats for completing the thesis! I’m inspired… As for this subject, I think the “no hurry in Africa” culture will remain stuck with us until we do something… It’s more important to go ahead with your programme as scheduled and let the later comers -who literally hold everybody else to ransom – arrive @ departure time! The next time they will make it a point never to be let. A long journey begins with one step. Somebody has to do something…

  2. TRY THE FLIP SIDE – I have often harboured similar feelings of being let down when I am driving and a half-idiot half-donkey cuts me off after just sticking out their arm and flashing a plastic-discoloured-teeth grin. Of-course the reflex gag here is to curse, rant and rave on top of your voice, to the accompaniment of your horn (personally I always wish I could just bazooka your ass to the next universe). But wait at the next turn tables have turned, now its you, armed with the same arsenal and flimsy faith, you try and negotiate for a free pass in front of someone, -but low and behold they have the stiffest neck ever wont even turn to look at you and they have a bigger car which you can’t abuse. What do you do, curse and wonder how “some people are so inconsiderate” and how “our country has been killed by such insensitive people” Anyway so what are the parallels with the book launch story – well you might need to be on the receiving end as the organiser to sort of get a feel of what its like to be let down by audiences, its a real spiked-ball juggle if you ask me – the moral of my contribution – cut them some slack- tomorrow you could find yourself on the flip-side. Of course am not condoning mediocrity in organising events but just to say its everybody’s responsibility to be organised including attendees.- Saka zviri kunzungu nekunyimo, saka musarova mwana ne shamhu ine minzwa.

  3. welcome back Stash and good luck with your thesis. about the article, you are absolutely right that the habit of taking a lackadaisical approach to things is whats (partially?) killing our country. there is much more I could say here to further highlight this but whats the point. you have spelled it out well.
    what i would encourage you and any one else who has a platform to share such experiences like a blog, a twitter account, a website, even facebook is that let us name and shame such practices as widely as we can. for eg I am not sure about your reasons for not naming the Author in question above. I also hope you twitted your concerns and displeasure ipapo, instantly and shared with your followers on twitter with fitting hashtags like #inefficiency #accountability #howtokillacountry etc.
    my contribution is that i have shared this article on twitter with a bolder headline
    “BOOKCAFE HARARE LETS DOWN PATRONS BY NOT BEING TIME-CONSCIOUS.”

  4. Congrats on finishing your thesis (very jealous about that) but I am glad it has freed you up to finally post something. I love your commonsensical stlye of narration, lol. I always think at the end of it, ‘she nailed it!’… May your ink never run dry my love!

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