about   |   writing   |   archives

Time, Date Will Tell

Dire Dawa: morning ablutions

Today is Sunday 27th May, 2004. My early morning jaunt trying to track down this town’s finest coffee roaster for a fresh brew started at 1pm local time.

One of the more nuanced quirks of Ethiopia is how locals refer to time. The country is notionally on Eastern Africa Time (EAT), which lies at UCT/GMT+3, but locally the clock-day starts at dawn (06:00) rather than at midnight (24:00) meaning that locals will quote times six hours ahead, or given that I’m writing this from Ethiopia – that I am running 6 hours behind. Time is an abstract and this is arguably less abstract than most: Ethiopia’s proximity to the equator provides limited variation to the dawn/dusk.

The Ethiopian calendar year is based on the Coptic calendar – starts on September 1st, and runs for 13 months – 12 months of 30 days, and the last month with 5 or 6 days depending on whether the rest of the world has a leap year.

The perceptions of time put into perspective by re-reading Edward T. Hall’s Beyond Culture.