Ghana Time


Life in Ghana follows a different timeline. Maybe there's a formula for anticipating how late somebody will be for a meeting, or how delayed a flight will be, but I haven't been able to figure it out yet. When somebody tells me he'll get the job done by Friday, I wonder which Friday he refers to.

Ghana Time can occasionally be frustrating, but at the end of the day, that's how life works in most of the world. Few things in the world are as reliable as an Austrian train schedule or a FedEx delivery window. I've learned to change my expectations when working in Ghana. It's not a matter of lowering expectations, because people in Ghana are responsible and always keep their word on important matters, but I've learned to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to timelines.

Recently we played a game of "Find the bill of lading at the Ghana Ministry of Health." FedEx delivered the document to the Ministry of Health on time, but it took a while to find its way to our Ministry of Health customs representative, who needed it to clear our container from the port. We knew that the document was somewhere at the Ministry, and that it would eventually find its way to our representative, but we tried to speed up the process to get our container cleared and on the way to its destination hospital at Jirapa, in the Upper West Region. This was a great learning adventure, and despite the administrative issues that we perceived, the Ministry of Health solved the problem as they always do, and as should have been expected, their timeline followed Ghana Time. Some things in this world are a given, like the sun rising every morning and the pattern of ocean tides. Maybe Ghana Time is just another impossible-to-change natural phenomenon.