"There is no hurry in Botswana": Scholarship and stereotypes on "African time" syndrome in Botswana, 1895- 2011
Makgala, Christian John
Thebe, Phenyo Churchill
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The lack of a strict and disciplined adherence to keeping time or punctuality has been an issue of major concern to many authorities in the African public and private sectors. Botswana is no exception, as this article will demonstrate. So pervasive is lack of punctuality among Africans in sub-Saharan Africa that a stereotypical notion of “African time” gained currency a long time ago and is still prevalent to this day. Undoubtedly, this attitude towards time negatively affects the productivity and economic performance of numerous African countries, such as Botswana, in their seemingly futile endeavour to become competitive globally and attract the much sought after foreign direct investment (FDI). In this article we try to make sense of African time from the scholarship on the African traditional socio-economic and environmental factors relating to time, as well as the popular stereotypical views of African time. This article shows that African time among the Batswana is something that frustrated the Victorian missionaries in the late nineteenth century. We also discuss how African time has translated into expression of political power by tribal and national political leaders. The problem of African time continues to be prevalent in the twenty-first century Botswana where a poor work ethic is also believed to be a major impediment to doing business in the country.