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African People Always Late Syndrome



A Few days ago, I asked 62 Students at Rutgers University in Newark New Jersey to think of the most recent event they attended and tell me if they were on for that event. Only 3% of this group of students could boast being on time. Yes it is true. Africans have a problem that has plagued them for many, many, years. It is a cause for concern. In some cases it is fashionable to be late and lateness actually works in our favor but in most cases, it doesn’t. This has fast become a part of our daily livelihood and desperately needs to be addressed.

Is it life threatening? To some degree-NO. Is it a habitual problem? YES. Does it benefit us as a community? I say – Absolutely NOT.

Sometimes it is referred to as “African Time” but I will label it a disease and name it “African People Always Late Syndrome” (APALS). This disease runs widely through the African community. Do I hear a guilty chuckle? Are you one of those that fall in the 97% group diagnosed with this syndrome?

Think about it …

  • How many times did you wake up at 6am (giving yourself an extra hour) to get ready for work and did not leave your house until 7:55am despite the fact that you have to be at work at 8am?
  • How many times did you ever have the pleasure of seeing the bride and groom actually walk into church at the beginning of a wedding ceremony?
  • How many times did you ever make it on time to your doctor’s appointment?
  • How many times did you tell a friend or date that you were on your way when you know darn well that you still needed to hit the shower?
  • How many times have you shown up for a party 2 or more hours later than the time it was scheduled to begin?
  • How many flights have you missed and convinced yourself it was traffic when you know you could have planned better?

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. This is not to you Africans who are almost always on time but I can bet that your boyfriend, husband, girlfriend or wife, brother or sister should be reading this article. Yes, I mean the one who runs late to almost every event.

APALS poses a potential problem in our African community and hinders our growth in a society where time is money. Imagine not being chosen for a lead position at your job because you are always 2 minutes late for work. You think people don’t notice? They do.

Imagine always coming late to church. You think its cool to make a grand entrance? Not in the eyes of God! Imagine arriving late on your first date with a friend or someone of interest. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. How about that job interview? Being late could easily ruin your chances.

What we owe each other Is respect

We cannot keep expecting that everyone else will be late to a function. No matter how you see it, it is a bad habit. We need to reflect within ourselves in order to fix this problem of time and lateness and not dwell on the fact that Africans are always late so it’s acceptable, because it is not.

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting on people so I don’t make them wait on me. This is about respecting someone else’s time. If you say you will meet someone at 3pm, be there at 3pm. If you show up at 3:30pm, then you show no respect for the other person’s time. They could have been doing something else other than waiting for you.

It is time we realize that little things such as APALS can lead to bigger issues that might not be solvable. I will like to challenge all of you reading my viewpoint to go to your next event on time. Do not be late. I’m share many other vibers will like to learn about your on-time experience so drop a comment when you have one.

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  1. Paul

    January 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Very true, I know a lot of Africans & they are always late.

    My wife is a nurse and is currently 2 hours late from work as she is waiting for an African guy to come pick up his poor wife from hospital. 2 Hours!!! while his wife just waits there after a minor operation

    It’s pure selfishness & they are pretty much all the same even the ones in our church

  2. Christine

    May 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I worked at an African/Caribbean centre and one staff member was regularly late, and worse still, just strolled in like it was normal, never apologised to the boss or the others who had to work harder to make up for her absence. She eventually got sacked due to her bad timekeeping.

    Also in my church it is always the black people who roll in half an hour after the service has started, disrupting the service by distracting the rest of the folk. I was told it was “Caribbean Time”, and “their culture”, so it must be commonplace elsewhere too!

  3. Taih

    July 21, 2012 at 4:32 am

    That article is beyond accurate. Very nice read and straight to the point. Being late s never a good thing especially when money is involved. If you are always late then why is there such a thing as time? I also know many Africans that are timely people.


  4. Mania

    July 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    So true

  5. Hannah

    September 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I’m African-American and black people are always late. We say if you want to start on time hire white people or let a white person do it.

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