So I have been around my house all day today and when that usually happens I have my iPod going. I have been trying to be productive today by cleaning my house and doing laundry while shaking my groove thing enjoying my alone time. As I was picking up around the house it dawned on me how many songs are related to time. Time is overwhelmingly everywhere here for me in Africa. I have more time then ever to just sit and ‘do nothing’. This has led to much unneeded floor washing, reading, spending time with the children of Nakililo and watching way to many movies. Despite my sever need to always stay busy by not participating in down time I have started to learn to embrace the time I have off and to myself. This topic is always a conversation between PCV’s because we all want to know what each other do to kill the hours of self-time. Although PCV’s face time issues in our personal lives here in Uganda we face another time issue: the difference between American and Ugandan time.
Most of the time Americans and Ugandans have an entirely different concept of time. In the American or Western worldview, time exists outside man, exists objectively and has measurable and linear characteristics. A typical American feels that they are ‘time’s slave’, dependent on it, subject to it. To exist and function in America a person must observe its inflexible and steadfast rules and must heed deadlines, dates, minuets and hours. American’s view time as an irresolvable conflict that exists, which always ends in man’s defeat – time annihilates the western man.
Ugandan’s apprehend time differently. It is a much looser concept, more open, elastic, and subjective. A Ugandan influences time, its shape, course, and rhythm. Time is even something that man can create outright, for example time is made manifest through events, and whether an event takes place or not depends, after all, on if people are present. On of the most glaring differences to me is that here in Uganda time appears as a result of our actions, and vanishes when we neglect or ignore it. It is something that springs into life under their influence, but falls into a state of hibernation, even nonexistence, if they do not direct their energy toward it. Time is a passive essence here and most importantly dependent on man.
And there in lies one of the most glaring differences between Americans and Ugandans: the comprehension of time. This sometimes makes simple tasks in America seem so daunting to accomplish here in Uganda. Traveling, setting up and accomplishing a meeting, going into town to the market or just trying to do your work all lead to struggles because of the difference that time makes here in Uganda. However, on a personal note the different perception of time is helping me mature my type-B personality, which I think, was a little malnourished before moving here.