Lost in time.

King Julian, the root of all evil, has finally been replaced. Hallelujah. The new kid on the block is Mr Nduger, who, for purposes of simplification, will be referred to as Dougie Howser.

Turns out Dougie hates women. He doesn’t like me telling him to do things. Clean the car. Pick up shopping bags. Open car lock. Turn on air conditioning. Anything. All instructions will get you a stink eye.

A, however, says he’s beyond courteous with him. Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde, much?

More on Dougie Howser’s split personality later. But this change in staff led me to an amazing discovery. Something I hadn’t noticed in my past year here. Quite shameful actually that I hadn’t but I bet A still doesn’t know.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a thing called Swahili Time.

And no it’s nothing like Pakistan time, which means you always add an hour to your designated meeting time because you know that’s when people will show up. It’s actually a parallel method of calculating time. Woah.

Unlike the European method, where the starting point is midnight, Swahili time is calculated with sunrise and sunset as starting points.

Sunrise is taken as 6am. So 7am, one hour after sunrise, is the first hour of daylight, saa moja. The counting continues up to 6 p.m, the 12th hour, saa kumi na mbili. Then the hours of the night are counted in the same way, 7 p.m. being saa moja, until 6 a.m, saa kumi na mbili.

To avoid confusion, a word such as asubuhi, morning; mchana, daytime; alasiri, afternoon; jioni, late afternoon before sunset; or usiku, night may be added to indicate which hour you mean.

saa 12 asubuhi, 6 o’clock in the morning.

saa 12 jioni, 6 o clock in the evening.


So the second day of work when Dougie Howser was told to come at 1pm, he showed up at 8am. Swahili time. And insisted that was his call time. Gave me the stink eye also.

After a bit of in depth research into the scenario and consultation with a Swahili speaker friend, the case of Dougie vs European time was finally cracked.

Excited by my newly acquired native time skills, I decided to tell my helper Desi, ‘Kuja kesho saa tatu’ (come tomorrow at 3, meaning 9am, you know what I’m saying).

But the puzzled look she gave me told me she was too used to me using European time with her to understand my newfound enthusiasm for Swahili time.

Guess I’ll have to find another Guinea pig.






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