A Cultural Lesson on Time and Values

Years ago, when my family and I were living in Venda, at that time one of the so-called Bantu homelands within South Africa – an effort by the apartheid government to legitimate to the international community a “separate but equal” racial policy (that failed) – I was driving with an older Venda colleague to a meeting.  At some point he noticed my concern with our possible lateness because I kept looking at my wrist watch.  Seizing this teaching opportunity, he pointed at his own watch and said, “Scott, do you see this?  We only wear this for decoration.”  In other words, I was being politely  taught a cultural lesson – that from an African’s perspective, relationships are of more importance than punctuality and a fixation on schedules.



Filed under Culture and Africa

2 responses to “A Cultural Lesson on Time and Values

  1. Danie van Niekerk

    Amen!, My watch has been off for years, but time is so interwoven with my western culture but it is a daily struggle. We are slowly coming to terms with other cultures perspectives on everything – I really do feel like a stranger in my own country at times.

  2. Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from
    my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and
    look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!

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