Telling time with the sun


The telling of time in English is significantly different from how time is told within most traditional cultures in Africa. In most traditional African languages, the first hour of the day (one O'clock) represents the start of the day, the rising of the morning sun which corresponds to 7am on English clock. The effects of this have been far-reaching, causing confusion during one’s daily scheduling of activities.

Within the health services sector, the effects of is perhaps more adverse. Non English speaking patients often misunderstand doctors/pharmacists’ prescriptions, mistaking time stamps written in the English format by default. For example 7am on the 12 hour clock is instead known as the first hour of the day, and in most local languages would be referred to as e.g ‘sawa emu kumacha’ loosely translated as one in the morning. So when one is told by a doctor to take medication everyday at 1pm, this is misunderstood to mean 7pm.

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