Today’s author is Kirsten Levorson, Bega Kwa Bega‘s Acting Director
Those of us who travel to Tanzania often joke about “Tanzanian Time.” It’s the experience of having a daily schedule, but each meeting or visit ends up taking longer than planned, until you’re arriving at the last village three hours late. While Americans tend to think of precise ‘clock time,” in Tanzanian culture, there’s a sense that things happen in a sequence. One thing happens and then the next thing, and each event will take as long as it takes. There’s a patient acceptance that all will happen as it needs to, in due time.
Often the observation of precise time or schedules is sacrificed to the importance of hospitality or hierarchy. If you’re on your way to an appointment, but cross paths with a friend along the way, hospitality insists that you stop to visit, even if that makes you late to the appointment. A celebration or large event will be delayed until the person of highest rank arrives. Meanwhile, those of us waiting spend our time singing and dancing.
Tanzanian culture values relationships in a way that rubs up against the American value of efficiency. When I stay at a lodge in Tanzania, I can never go to the staff and ask a direct question before first greeting the person. Good morning. How did you sleep? Can you help me with the lights in my room?
When unexpected events pop up during a trip, whether positive or negative, it’s good to adopt that local attitude. Relax, we’re on Tanzanian time.
Gracious God, we thank you for the times when cultures bump up against one another and reveal something new. May we learn to value hospitality and relationships as much as