African Time vs. EgypTime

Let me start off by saying that I originate from west Africa, and as such we’re notorious for running on ‘African time’, a time scale that differs from everyone else. So, in London, telling us to get to a party for 8pm guaranteed an arrival time no earlier than 10pm. The term ‘on-time’ rarely makes its way into our dictionary of life – standard. There are obvious exceptions to the rule, but the rule is rarely broken.

Dealing with Egyptians, however, is a different story entirely! And despite Egypt being a part of the African map, they take the African time concept to a whole new level of ridiculousness. Yes, I said that; they run on EgypTime, which can be anything between 2-6 hours later than the time agreed.

You see, I had scheduled to view a flat a month ago, and the landlord and I agreed on 11am. When I informed him that I would be setting out at 10.30am to get there on-time, he interjected with, “How long have you been in Egypt?”

“Two months,” I replied.

“Ah,” he began, a wave of understanding evidently washing over him. “That’s why.”

I imagined that he was nodding and stroking his chin as it all became clear to him, but I did not understand at all.

“That’s why what?” I asked.

“That’s why you’re so accurate with the time,” (if only he knew!) “Once you’re here a little longer, you’ll know that we do things differently here.”

I must admit that Egyptians have successfully made a mockery of the concept of African time, and due to the odd sleeping patterns of people here (as in, when do they sleep?!), the definition of morning, afternoon and evening is vastly different from what I’ve known all my life.

Hence, when I called to make an enquiry about a flat at 1pm, the landlord told me to call back in the afternoon… at 7pm! Erm… isn’t that considered evening? Sure, it’s after noon, but it’s also after 6pm, which technically makes it evening time.

I wonder when he considers evening  to be. Actually, I’d rather not know; a 7pm afternoon is baffling enough.

– The Londoner


Posted on December 17, 2010, in Ruminations about Cairo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Haha! Brilliant! I completely get where you’re coming from (literally). I have appointments all day practically everyday and I make such an effort to get there on time, but then the person I’m going to see has told everyone the same time so I end up having to wait. Do they apologise for being late? Do they buffalo! It’s just “maalesh……ya fandem…..shay?”

  2. I learnt this concept the hard way many years ago in the freezing cold when a relative said that she’d be back after five minutes…two hours later I was still waiting in the car.

  3. looooooooooooooooooooooooooool LOVE IT!

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