BLACK MAN TIME
Have you always gone fashionably late to programs?
Do you always seem to be the last person to arrive at a program??
Then you might be a Sierra Leonean at Heart. Here, instead of calling it fashionably late, here we call it the BMT and it is literally what Sierra Leoneans operate on when they have events or programmes, instead of the GMT. Under the BMT you might be given an invitation to attend a programme by 2 pm, but it’s really going to start at 4. Everyone knows people are operating on the BMT, so if you want people to come to your event at 5, you put 3pm at the invitation.
What is BMT in the first place, well it is when we go late to programmes and events, fashionable of coarse and expect that even the host is operating in the BMT zone.
As Sierra Leoneans, we perfectly understand how the BMT works, except for some Foreigners of course. They always end up going too early to programs, and when they know of the existence of the BMT, they end up going at the tail end. The BMT is all about timing and Precision of course. You do not want to go to a Sierra Leonean programme and meet the programme at its tail end or be mad at your Sierra Leonean friend because you had a meeting scheduled at 10 am and they ended up showing up like 12 pm. This timing is done based on anticipation. Sierra Leonean to Sierra Leonean, I know when you say 10, you mean 12 and when you say 12 you actually are expecting me by 2 pm.
But happily enough, you must know that to every rule or custom there is an exception. BMT does not operate in the following circumstances:
- When it is a visa interview. When the interview is at 10 am, we go there at 8 am. If possible, we would probably arrive there by 6 am of course.
- When the meeting involves money matters, we use the GMT instead of the BMT. For this one we would probably be waiting on you. Time and Money waits for no man they say.
- When we have to travel, outside the country in particular. That is the time you would know all your relatives can tell time. If your plane ticket is for 7pm, they would make sure you arrive at the airport at 1 pm.
- When you have a job interview for a lucrative job or scholarship. We would be the ones waiting for the interviewer.
On a whole, this culture of BMT is mostly operational in informal or semi formal settings like weddings, birthday parties, funerals etc. But in other settings which involve especially the following money, visa or job interview, we would be operating on the GMT.
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Esther Kamara is a Dutch-Sierra Leonean that was born and raised in Amsterdam. After finishing her bachelor Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam she moved to Freetown, where she now works as a freelance writer and artist manager. Her brainchildren are otherworldly short stories and peculiar drawings of non-existing characters.