Skip to Content

Brittney Cooper. Screenshot from YouTube

American professor complains that time is ‘racist’

An American associate professor of women’s, gender and Africana studies at Rutgers University, says that time is racist.

Published: April 16, 2019, 6:47 am

    Read more

    In an interview with NPR affiliate WSIU-FM, Brittney Cooper claimed that Africans have a reputation for being late, because the notion of time itself was a white construct.

    “Typically, we talk about race in terms of black and white issues. In the African-American communities from which I come, we have a long-standing multigenerational joke about what we call CP time or colored people time.

    “Now, we no longer refer to African-Americans as colored. But this long-standing joke about our perpetual lateness to church, to cookouts, to family events and even to our own funerals remains.[…]

    “But today I want to talk to you more about the political nature of time; for if time had a race, it would be white. White people own time,” Cooper said.

    African time or Africa time in parts of Africa and the Caribbean, is a more relaxed attitude toward time. This is sometimes used in a pejorative sense, about tardiness in appointments, meetings and events.

    This includes the less rigorously scheduled lifestyles found in African countries, especially as opposed to the more clock-bound pace of daily life in Western countries. As such, it is similar to time orientations in non-Western cultures.

    African cultures are often described by anthropologists as “polychronic”, which means Africans do not manage time in a strict sequence.

    According to Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah, strict Western notions of time do not suit Africans.

    “One of the main reasons for the continuing underdevelopment of our country is our nonchalant attitude to time and the need for punctuality in all aspects of life. The problem of punctuality has become so endemic that lateness to any function is accepted and explained off as ‘African time’,” said another author.

    American entrepeneur Dave Hecker on his visit to Ghana, noted that the term “Africa Time” was widely used to describe tardiness, although he said he personally preferred GMT or “Ghana Maybe Time”.

    In October 2007, an Ivorian campaign against African time, backed by President Laurent Gbagbo, received international media attention when an event called “Punctuality Night” was held in Abidjan to recognize business people and government workers for regularly being on time.

    The slogan of the campaign is “‘African time’ is killing Africa – let’s fight it.”

    Reuters reported that “organisers hope to heighten awareness of how missed appointments, meetings or even late buses cut productivity in a region where languid tardiness is the norm”.

    Legal adviser Narcisse Aka—who received a $60 000 villa in recognition of his punctuality, “is so unusually good at being punctual that his colleagues call him ‘Mr White Man’s Time'”.

    Recently international journalists in the UK were kept waiting by the king of Ghana’s largest ethnic group who was visiting Alexandra Palace in north London at the climax of a Ghanaian trade exhibition, Ghana Expo 2003.

    The journalists had been informed that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II from the Ashanti would arrive at the exhibition at 11:00 GMT. His arrival time was then changed to 14:00, but the king did not show up until two hours later when the journalists had already departed.

    The BBC’s Africa Live programme aired a progamme to demand whether “poor time-keeping” was Africa’s worst enemy?

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.


    Friend of victim says Stellenbosch farm murder was a hit job

    StellenboschStefan Smit (62), owner of the wine farm Louiesenhof in Stellenbosch, was shot and killed in his house last week in the latest farm attack. A friend of Smit believes that the murder was a hit job.

    ‘You white bastards’, then 3 blacks execute young white couple

    In the latest racially-motivated black-on-white murder in South Africa, Johanco Fleischman and Jessica Kuhn were attacked by an armed black group when their vehicle had run out of fuel east of Johannesburg.

    South Africa: activist against farm attacks murdered at home

    The brutal killing of human-rights activist Annette Kennealy on her small farm has again placed South African farm murders in the spotlight.

    South Africa’s FF Plus party ‘could have done even better’

    During South Africa's recent parliamentary elections, the Freedom Front Plus almost trebled its number of votes to 414 844 and the number of its MPs in the national parliament increased from 4 to 10. Dan Roodt spoke to a long-standing and prominent party member, Werner Weber.

    South African election: Swing to the right amid fabricated consensus

    Despite ongoing and profound corruption within the ruling party, South Africa's electorate has given the ANC another five years of power. Among white Afrikaans voters, there is a swing to the right, however. FWM takes an exclusive look at the election.

    Diplomatic wife found guilty of fraud in ‘ghost teachers’ case

    In South Africa, being the wife of an MP or the spouse of an ambassador does not preclude you from engaging in fraud and embezzlement of funds destined for the education of small children, as the Portia Sizani case bears out.

    Three black attackers stab white farmer to death

    KirkwoodPolice have identified the name of the white man who was stabbed to death by black assaillants during a farm attack in Kirkwood on Sunday evening.

    Democrats took expensive trip to South Africa for Beyoncé concert

    Five House Democrats took a $60,000 trip to South Africa to attend the chaotic "Global Citizen Mandela 100" concert in Johannesburg that ended in criminal violence. Strangely, none of them had noticed anything while on their visit.

    South Africa: Grave of EFF’s favourite philosopher vandalised

    Karl Marx's memorial in Highgate Cemetery, London, in the UK has been vandalised, with parts of the Grade I listed monument's inscription damaged by a hammer-wielding individual. Britain's Highgate Cemetery regularly receives over 80 000 visitors a year, and this is the main sight that many of them come to see.

    South Africa: ‘Only blacks’ medical programme ripped as racist

    The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal has attempted to create 100 new positions in a training program for physicians reserved exclusively for black candidates.

    Go to archive