Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Slower Pace

We have definitely experienced a completely different pace to different activities while here in Rundu. African cultures are generally “event orientated” versus “time orientated”, which means something begins when there are enough people to participate in the event and ends whenever it is felt that the event is completed. This has driven us to distraction many times, especially the idea of “rewarding the latecomers”: if someone shows up 2 hours after an event starts, there is usually a complete interruption including a full recap of what has happened so far, and no apology is ever proffered or expected. On the other hand, we have also enjoyed the sometimes slower pace of life, a chance to “smell some roses”.

Here is a short list of some things which go slower in Rundu:

1. An empty taxi: there is an expression “Rundu slow” which we have coined to refer to a taxi driving 10kms/hour on the main streets, looking for anyone to collect.
2. Line-ups (especially in government buildings): people are used to waiting in lines for hours or even days for such things as withdrawing money from the bank or paying a water bill. Sabrina has often been in a line at the Home Affairs Office for 4 hours, only to be told when she reaches the front of the line attempting to register an orphan that she is in the wrong line (even though the day before it was the correct line). And the process starts from scratch again.
3. Greetings: We have observed routine greetings which take a minute or so as acquaintances inquire about the previous nights sleep, the family, any news, their health, etc. Then, the person takes two or three steps and meets the next person to repeat the performance.
4. Church services: the average church service we have endured while here in Rundu/Kaisosi is around 4 hours, with our personal record being 7.5 hours (with no break).

The one thing that has seemed to go by extremely fast has been our year here: we are still in shock that we are coming to the end, it feels like we arrived only a couple months ago.

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