– african time

This is a personal story which I originally shared on this day, 3 years ago, on my first day of work after a retrenchment.
Today I want to share with you a personal story that highlights the importance of being punctual. Be it catching a flight/bus, meeting with the president, your child’s school dance, or just a drink with the boys. (My boys will probably differ here, as I have on more than a few occasions being late on such engagements)

Many years ago, circa 2007 I worked for a company. Let’s call it company X. At this company, there were very few black people employed. When I joined, there were only 2 black employees, and they both resigned shortly after I joined, leaving me as the only token black guy.

Company X continued with their efforts to recruit black employees, albeit only in lowly intern positions. By the time I left the company, mid-2010, there were well over 15 black employees. During my period there, we formed an informal group of black staff members. Aptly named “The Black Forum”. I was the self-appointment president/chairman of that forum.

We met regularly, braaied, drank, and sometimes deliberated on work politics effecting the black staff. We never had strikes or protests.

We continued to meet even after most of us had left the company. Less regularly than we used to. The attendance levels have also dwindled.

In 2011, I organized a reunion meeting, with past and current employees of X just to touch base. On that particular evening of the meeting, I arrived at least 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time, as I was the organizer and chair. It would’ve been embarrassing for me to arrive late. During those 15 minutes, I met a fellow Black Forum member whom I had never met before, he had joined X after I left. Let’s call him V.

After greetings and introductions, me and V got along like a house on fire. At the end of the evening, it was as if we had known each other for decades. And since that day we had been good friends.

Fast forward to 2017. V hits me up on Whatsapp, on some “yo, Paulina, my company is looking for some BI developers, if you interested please apply”
He calls me “Paulina”. Don’t ask.

I’m reluctant, but I send through my CV. I get interviewed. I do a litany of technical tests. I get another follow up interview. I get an offer. I sign. I tell every company that has been playing hide and seek with my emotions to stop contacting me. Today was my first day. V is now my colleague.

I’m not perfect, I have missed an early morning plane in Cape Town a few years ago, and paid a hefty price. But I always try to be early, you’ll never know whom you might meet and chat to in those 15 minutes.

If I had not been 15 minutes early for that Black Forum meeting, maybe I’ll still be waiting for my UIF payment.

Moral of this story, for once I am advocating for doing away with something African, casually called the African Time. It is just a bad excuse used by people who don’t have respect for other people. And there’s nothing African about that. Let’s stick to global systems like the GMT or the UTC.

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