Dawn is the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. It also marks the beginning of a phenomenon or period of time, especially one considered favourable. Dusk can be seen as the time before night when it is not yet dark.
In other words, it is the period of time between sunset and nightfall. Many parents allow their children to roam freely in their neighbourhood as long as they are home by dusk.
The human race, I understand, is made up of morning people and night people. There are those who are at their best and most productive in the early morning hours and then there are the night owls, who really only come into their own during the night.
The natural order of things, which would require that we work during the day and sleep at night, does not quite fit into this scheme. Our bodies tend to obey the 24-hour clock and the dark hours instinctively send us to sleep.
For instance, if you have been placed in the tropics like we have, it is a good idea to get the heavy things done before the heat of the sun sets in. So, our day starts early and ends early. An early start in these parts could probably be from 4:00am or earlier.
Truth is, I have been thinking of the morning programme that I knew as a child and which seems to have survived to this day. If there is something important to be said, it will be said around 4:00am and arrangements for the gathering might have been done the night before, or you could just be summoned as dawn is about to break.
If your parents knock on your door at that time of the morning, you can be sure you are in some kind of trouble. It is very rare that your mother will wake you up at 4:00am to talk about something great that you have done. An early morning meeting means the matter is deadly serious and you are not expected to forget about it in a hurry.
Then, of course, there are the early morning household chores that have to be done to ensure that everybody can get to work or school, or farm or wherever they need to get to. Some adults now can attest to the fact that, in their childhood years, one of the reasons for getting up early was because most homes in the villages did not have running water and two or three trips to the river to fetch water was an obligatory part of the early morning practice.
If you go to boarding school, you will discover you have had the most appropriate training and been well prepared for the boarding school routine. In my boarding school, and that seems to be the norm in Ghana boarding schools, the morning rising bell is at 5:00am and there is no question of lingering in bed once that bell rings.
In later life you discover that once you get attached to this routine, it is difficult to get it out of your system. The arrival of pipe borne water might save the present generation from the journeys to the river, but it does not mean you can stay in bed an extra half an hour.
Many kitchen gadgets have been introduced into our lives which should mean that it now takes a shorter time to prepare meals, and the drudgery has been taken out of our traditional cooking, but this has not won the women an extra half an hour in bed.
There is the clear perception that anyone, especially female, who stays in bed beyond 5:00am must be branded a lazy woman. In many of our communities, if you are in bed at 5:00am, discreet attempts would be made at your door to find out if all is well with you. The thinking is that it is only someone who is unwell who would still be in bed during that time.
It does not seem to fit in with our culture, and a healthy person in bed beyond 5:30am must be lazy.
On a closer look, I discover that if I have an early night and go to bed at 9:00pm or 8:00pm or even 7:00pm, no one would suggest I am a lazy woman or I was lingering in bed. It is not the number of hours you stay in bed that determines how lazy or how hardworking you are; it is staying in bed in the morning that offends the sensibilities of our cultural mores.
Electricity, internet arrival
The arrival of electricity in our lives does not seem to have made much of a difference to these perceptions, especially, since these days there is so much activity at night. But the arrival of internet has contributed in more ways than one to difference.
Undoubtedly, many young people spend the night hours making long phone calls, chatting with their friends and watching movies because it is cheaper to do so during the night. For example, you hear most young people saying, “I’m waiting to do Midnight bundle”, “Let’s download the movie during Midnight”
Once upon a time, it was not the case; people who operated best during the night hours would make and gladly receive phone calls up to about midnight. They would not dream of making a phone call before 7:00am and would expect similar courtesies to be extended to them.
For me, if I know that you go to bed early, I would not be calling you at 9:00pm, unless there is an emergency. There does not appear to be an accepted cut-off point at which it is polite to make calls in the mornings. Should we assume that everyone is expected to be up by 5:00am and, therefore, able to take calls?
Consequently, what am I supposed to do if my journey to school takes two hours and I am obliged to leave home by 5:00am and I do not really want to face the world at that time of morning?
As Ghanaians, does our getting up or going to bed matter or can’t we just be morning persons or a night owls and still be Ghanaians? Hats off to time!
The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). Writer’s email: email@example.com.