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  • Writer's pictureMuna Ezeudu


By Muna Ezeudu

Coming from a country where no one keeps to time and being late is not abnormal, I packed “African-time” into my suitcase while happily traveling to Canada to continue my education. One might be wondering what African-time means. Well, it is a dilly dally approach to managing time and schedules. It’s normalized in Nigeria. For instance, your flight is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and you sluggishly show up at the airport at 9:55 a.m. Or should I talk about civil servants who show up an hour late to work, with reckless abandon? The list is long, but the instances are similar. It's a lifestyle in Nigeria, and as they say, if you can't beat them, join them.

“...I packed “African-time” into my suitcase while happily traveling to Canada to continue my education.”

In September 2022, I was accepted into a renowned university in Ontario. African-time was one of the first things I unpacked after I arrived at my apartment in a 17-story-building resided by other university students. I had made the journey from my homeland of Nigeria to Canada in 2022, during Canada’s fall season which felt like the peak of harmattan in Nigeria and we all know how sleepy and lazy one feels during that season. Good thing, my African-time skills went dormant in the first two months because I had a lot to do and time management was key for me. Firstly, I had to do a lease registration, insurance, school orientation, bus pass, SIN registration and application for a government ID. I accomplished all these within the first two months of arriving in Canada, and I never showed up late at any instance. Obviously, this Naija babe was very proud of her “English self.”

As we all know, after fall comes winter. The winter here no be beans! I thought it would be like the winter I experienced on a trip to North Carolina in the U.S., but no, Canada’s winter is legendary! The sleeping recessive African-time gene in me awakened in the Canadian snow. At first, some of my classes were canceled and some were done virtually due to snow storms. Buses were delayed, people got ill, and worst of all, roads – covered in 15 to 12 inches of snow – were blocked by motor accidents. It was a crazy winter experience! Nevertheless, as the GRT buses, which all students relied on as our only means of transportation to school, got delayed for 10 to 20 mins and one had to stand at bus stops for about 20 mins in the freezing cold, one would surrender to African-time, as an excuse for the delays at the bus stops. Trust this African babe, the African-time in me resurrected and became dominant!

“...Canada’s winter is legendary!”

Sure thing, I could justify my lateness to appointments and lectures with “my bus was delayed twice” or "there was a motor accident at 401 and vehicles were diverted to a longer route.” You can not blame us, sebi GRT started the game of delays and detour, or was it Mother Nature? Anyway, the game of excuses went well – while it lasted.

On a beautiful Saturday morning, after a previous day’s snowstorm, I gegely took my time to get up from my bed. Regardless of the fact that I had an appointment with my bank account officer, I sluggishly went into the washroom for a very hot shower! The shower was soothing and I didn’t want to leave just yet because winter’s reality would hit me the moment I left my apartment.

Las las, I had to go make my breakfast: a chai latte with two bagels and cream cheese. Then, I checked my app to know the best time to head for the bus stop so I could get to the bank early enough. OK, my appointment was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and the bank was to close at 3:00 p.m. because it was a Saturday. There would be a bus departing at 1:20 p.m. and the bank was a 45-min bus ride away. So I relaxed because I thought I had enough time and suspected the bus would be delayed, as usual.

Guess what! As predicted, it was delayed for 15 minutes, the very moment I was about to leave my apartment and I was not going to wait in the cold for that length of time. Hence, I pulled off my shoes, went into my room and got busy doing nothing. Hehehe. Shege don dey smell for air then, but I was “too African” to perceive it.

All I can remember is that I looked at my app after an assumed 10 minutes (because the African alarm clock in my head read 10 minutes after the last time I checked the app) and it read “in time in 2 mins.” Omo! I quickly grabbed my winter jacket and put my boots back on, rushed out, forgot I didn’t lock my door, rushed back to lock it and sped like speedy Gonzalez on my heels!

“Shege don dey smell for air then, but I was “too African” to perceive it.”

Shege number one hit me, when I obviously missed the bus by 30 seconds delay, then I checked for the next arrival time – 30 minutes away, which meant I would be arriving at the bank a few minutes to the closing time. Laughter left my face then and I started sweating inside my thinking faculty. So, I decided to call the bank and plead for a time adjustment, and na that decision dey control my footsteps for this country till date.

OK, I called them and begged and begged and still begged for a time adjustment, but the lady said the time was reserved for me and the later time I requested was reserved for another client. Ah! She then recommended I get rescheduled and I quickly jumped on it. Wahala no dey finish o. Sooo, that’s how the auntie said the closest available date is the last Saturday of the next month. I became very sad that moment, to the point that I forgot I was freezing out there at the bus stop, because I had waited for three weeks to get that date. Now I would have to wait five more weeks before I could set up my bank account to enact certain transactions.

Well, ever since then, I’ve chosen to be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the arrival time and take buses that would arrive at my destination 30 minutes before appointments.

Las las, African time shaa showed me pepper that day.

Lesson of the day: “It is not of he who runneth fast, but of he who keepeth to time.” That's a quote I created that day, as Philosopher Muna!

Muna Ezeudu is a broadcast journalist and digital media specialist, living in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cinematography, videography and content creation.

Twitter @munachimu

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