So did you watch the VGMAs? What did you think? Some say it was the best one ever. They have praised the set design, the lighting, the MCs, the performances -all of which were brilliant – but personally, the one thing I was more impressed by this year than any other, was the timekeeping. They actually started less than an hour after the advertised start time and finished before midnight. This may sound unimpressive to those who have never been to a VGMA award ceremony before (and I confess, it was my first too, but I'd heard the horror stories, and) trust me, this was a marked improvement.
I got a call a week earlier asking if I would present an award, and I was honoured to do so. However, I genuinely didn't want to sit for seven hours waiting to go on and do one minute of work, so I expressed my concern to the gentleman on the phone. Here's what he said, "Oh you don't have to worry about that. This year, we are sticking to the timetable. DSTV and MTV will be covering it, so we can't waste their time.
I felt two things at once: relief that my time wouldn't be unnecessarily wasted, and an offence that it wasn't actually MY time the gentleman on the phone was respecting, but the time of the MTV and DSTV crew.
It also made me realise something even more important: Ghanaians can be on time if they want to.
So why are we always so embarrassingly late?
We are all guilty of this, by the way. We breeze into the office an hour after reporting time and blame traffic. Mechanics tell you your car will be ready by midday, and it's not ready until 3pm the following week. The church service is supposed to end at 12:30, but by quarter to 2, the pastor is still preaching (I don't know about you, but personally, I find it hard to believe that the Holy Spirit can't summarise), The KVIP inauguration is supposed to start at 9am, but the President doesn't turn up until four hours later. And his ministers are even worse. Nobody seems to respect anybody's time – until they have to.
Ghanaians who live abroad are never late for work. They respect their white bosses' time but we don't respect ours. Ghanaian mechanics abroad stick to their promised timelines. They respect their white customers' time, but we don't respect ours. The President would never be late for a meeting with President Obama or David Cameron. He respects their time, but not ours. And as the gentleman demonstrated to me on the phone, the time of the MTV and DSTV audience was worth more than the Ghanaian audience has been worth to them over all these years the awards have been held.
Friends, we can do this. We have proved time and time again that when it matters, we can be on time. We just need to do it often enough for it to become a habit. And that means we need to change our mindsets and have a little more respect for other people's time. If we respected our colleagues' time, we would get to work earlier. If we respected our customers' time, we would work faster and deliver the products and services they're paying for in good time. If we respected our congregation's time, we would not take any more of it than we asked for when we asked them to come fellowship with us. God is a God of order. Let's not misrepresent Him by creating the impression He can't read a watch.
Now, I do understand that there are some delays we can't anticipate, but most, we can and for those, we have no excuse for letting them make us late. You know how much time traffic adds to your commute. You've travelled that route for years. You know how long it takes to apply your makeup. You've had that face for years. A simple practice run will tell you how long your sermon will take to deliver. The more you think about it, there's almost no excuse for tardiness. You know how long it takes to do things. Just add a little extra time for unforeseen delays and start on time.
The VGMAs were good this year. It was a great experience, and I genuinely wish to commend the organisers for starting and finishing earlier than ever before. Whatever your reasons for doing it, I just need you to realise that you can actually do this. It's not beyond you. So please let's never go back to the bad old days. Well done. Let's do even better next time.
My name is Kojo Yankson and I'm going to shut up right now and let the 6am bulletin start on time.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!