Time –

It’s been an interesting 4 weeks since I arrived in country and the last 10 days have been most challenging when it comes to ‘time’.

We measure our life experiences by it – from the hour we set our alarms, to the gatherings between family and friends for fellowship and meals shared, milestones like birthdays, anniversaries…we measure time by our last conversation.…even coming here I have the ‘time’ on my phone for both local, eastern ‘time’ zones, my wristwatch and the my running watch that also helps measure distance!

For some, time moves too fast, others it moves at a snail’s pace – in the end it still is the same unit of measurement. What I have discovered over the past few weeks isn’t so much that time is different between the places we visit, work or live, but more so the urgency with which we approach such events.

I am learning that it takes time and patience to work here in Abuja and in the non-profit world. Nothing works quite like is does in the West or in the corporate sector.  It takes twice as long to get something done because the power or the Internet goes out and even with the generators, it’ll takes a while for things to start running again. But also it is the sense of urgency in dealing with the work.  It’s coming to grips with the expectation of a timeline on the ground – one that doesn’t match my own or that back in the main office when dealing with those around you.  It is having to change my point of view in order to learn what this Pulse position may require of me.

PULSE is about providing a change – how we approach a task. PULSE should change us, but it should also change our partners to see things differently.  PULSE allows us to bring our experiences to the table and to be utilised to bring about a sustainable change.  There is much to be learned from both sides of the table over the time of our assignments.

So I leave this observation with my current experience of time and urgency – as of this writing I have 1 day before I become illegal in a country whilst I wait for my VISA extension. It seems immigration is working on Nigerian time.  I’ve done everything I can to extend my VISA ‘by the book’ regardless of what has been done in the past on the ground here…..in time……and hope that the extra piece of paper I now hold saying that my application is under review will serve me well if I am stopped on the street.  I’m learning to let go of time and urgency and accept the way of the land here…. accepting Nigerian time – 5 minutes forward and 3 minutes back.

It will work out in due time…..we eventually reach the same destination – right?


  1. Hi Robert, Yes, learning to accept things in Nigerian time is key! It doesn’t happen overnight, but it DOES happen. Relax, let go of your expectations of how things “should” go and enjoy the pace of life there. There are rewards in doing so 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and all the best as you continue to adjust to life in Abuja!

  2. Hi Robert – I am living the opposite. Time is spinning as fast or even faster at Save the Children Australia than at GSK. Trying to avoid the whilrlpool! Good luck with your visa.

  3. Well said Robert! I love reading your posts as it brings a new perspective to the daily stresses of life at home. Learning how to appreciate the “moment in time” is a life lesson! Good luck- it will all work out. Let it go and enjoy your “moment in time.”

  4. Great post and really empathise with the time and readjusting our expectations – hang in there am sure then visa will work out

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