My ‘British’ punctuality in ‘watch-less’ Lagos

I never know when to turn up for things in Lagos.  When I arrive at the arranged time, no one’s there; if I wait 30 minutes, the person still wouldn’t be there. After an hour…nothing.  An hour and a half – still waiting.  At what point do I stop expecting you?

I value time.  We don’t live very long and no one knows when they will die.  So for someone to decide to spend some of their limited time with me, I feel honoured.  I show this gratitude by being punctual. Mostly, I aim to be at the rendezvous 15 minutes earlier so that I am the one waiting and not the other person.  If you wait more than two minutes for me, I feel terrible.

Yesterday, I read somewhere that “punctuality is the virtue of the bored”; but even when I am busy enjoying myself where I am, I leave it all for you so I don’t waste your time. Lagosians say it’s because I am too ‘British’, but even my British friends don’t exhibit this level of caution for timekeeping.

In Lagos, people repeatedly make a mess of my day, more than anywhere else I’ve been. They love to use the traffic excuse which I have zero sympathy for because we all know that of course there will be traffic.  So, if you really planned to be on time, you would have left much earlier.  Some people don’t even have the curtsy to call and apologise for lateness or say that they won’t be coming after all!  This maddens me.  It actually makes me feel like a fool for offering you a chunk of my life.

Yet, with each passing day, I feel the anger dissipating and I am accepting the fact that this is Lagos and punctuality is only a virtue for primary school students.


Image|The Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos|Source:



  1. I liked this post. Time is precious.I suggest you let the people know in advance that if they are late you would like to be notified and that if they are late you will only wait for 30 mins (and no longer) before you leave. It sounds harsh, and it doesn’t necessarily bode well with some people, but some have actually improved upon these ultimatums, but by all means use your discretion.


    1. Yeah it does sound harsh but it’s fair. My close friends know me. They know I’d give them a 15 to 30-minute lecture on punctuality if they are late but I cant really do that for an older person….


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