"Africa time" requires patience, especially when things go wrong

Often times here, things don’t go as planned. That’s life. But yesterday, I learned a very valuable lesson.

My friend Bente and I arrived at the Ministry of Health to interview Dr. Musungzi. As we were waiting in his office, I realized I didn’t have my camera bag. I panicked immediately because I thought I remembered having it when I was in the cab.

I texted our cab driver, who was still waiting for us outside (cabs do that here), and he told me he remembered seeing me leave the cab with two bags.

I realized the only place I would have put down the bag would be at the security table at the entrance of the building. I immediately went to talk to the security guard and she said she had not seen it. At this point I was super nervous and started asking the people outside about it. They were extremely helpful, and soon everyone in the lobby was helping me look for it.

I texted some people at the Daily Monitor office. Eventually Erica Gibson responded that my camera was there. I called to double check that it was my camera bag, because they all look the same, and they confirmed it was mine.

I felt relieved, but also embarrassed. These people had helped me search for so long, and my bag had been back at the Daily Monitor’s office the entire time! But no one seemed annoyed at all. In fact, they were all just very happy that I hadn’t lost my bag.

I hugged the woman who had been helping me the most, and I teared up a little. It was a very stressful situation.

Unfortunately, our interviewee never showed up. His secretary told us to come back next week, so we’re hoping to reschedule then.

I think we have all had experiences with our interviews that remind us things do not work the same here as they do in the United States. Time is more flexible to Ugandans than to us. It has been a great learning experience and, although frustrating, has forced me to practice my patience.

Let’s hope next week will go more smoothly.