It’s the 14th day of February, famously known as the Valentine’s day. Happy Valentines to you all, lovers of this day. Many a times, I really force myself into keeping quiet or rather reserving my comments to myself. But, this I couldn’t let it go, I have to comment!! Others actually want Valentine’s day declared a Public Holiday, now this got juicer. Nairobi City is painted RED!! Name it all, on the shopping malls, within the city, on the matatus and on the airwaves.
The truth is, my life now is divided into: my life before and my life after being abroad. It is definitely that I will keep comparing my life in Kenya and my stay in Norway for a while. Last year a time like this, I missed this Kenyan fascination on Valentine’s Day.
I remember I took a walk around Kristiansand city, looking for any traces of Valentine’s day in vain. When I finally asked my former colleagues at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK about it, they actually looked puzzled. “What about Valentine’s day?” Many wouldn’t consider it a day worth a mention. Two of my former colleagues from NRK land in Kenya today and I cannot wait to see their reaction, they are here at the right time. “Why should we dedicate one day to celebrate love? It sounds very superficial. You can buy flowers anytime of the year; it doesn’t have to be on the 14th February.” Remarked a friend.
When I finally blogged about my culture clash concerning the Valentine ’s celebration, many were shocked. It is at this point that I should actually mention that in Kenya, Valentine day makes the lead story in a news bulletin. This is definitely something I found totally incredible. However and whatever angle I look at it, I still couldn’t comprehend how. I will understand, it will make news, but not the lead story.
The media is definitely the agenda setter as far as this celebration is concerned. The whole of last week and until day, more and more love songs have hit the airwaves than ever before. Love messages and dedications have become the main topic, nothing short of that. In towns, many were in a last-minute rash buying roses, teddy bears, lingerie’s, wine and chocolates for their loved ones.
On Sunday, I stepped into Mavuno Church and I loved what I saw. The podium decorated in big red hearts, (How I wish I had brought my camera with me). The topic was definitely a love topic, with this month’s series being, “Find us, Keep us”. Pastor M, was on point as he led us through checklist as far as life commitment and marriage partners are concerned.
We Love Valentine’s Day
Yes, for those who did not know, this is Kenya. In Nairobi, we love and adore Valentine’s day, for reasons best known to us. One, it is a Western phenomenon and therefore, we rate it highly and ape the many things we hear about it. Two, many of us do not know the origin of Valentine’s day, but, because the media makes so much fuss about it, we believe it is extremely our right to be treated on the Valentines. It always been reported that many relationships go sour after Valentine’s day, due to many unmet expectations.
Three, we lack creativity in expressing our love to our loved ones; therefore, we take advantage of the ready-made ideas and capitalize on them. Year in, year out, we seem to have the same story lines, chocolates, cards, rose flowers, either hand delivered or office surprises. Of course, it is a great business opportunity for hoteliers and flower businesses.
As I took a walk at the City Center last night, I made friends with a few flower vendors who had strategically positioned themselves all over the city. I asked, “Mmm, how is the going? Great business opportunity, right?” “Not really, many have only come to make orders that need to be delivered to the offices as surprise deliveries, so we expect to make most sales tomorrow(today).” Said, Alex, who together with his four colleagues, had a central stand along Kimathi Street.
Some Little Creativity
At the Supermarkets, the madness was the same. I toured Nakumatt, Tuskys and Ukwala Supermakets in town and clearly, red teddy bears, red lingerie’s, wines and chocolates were timely displayed. I must admit, I am a bit hard to please, but…..but…..but, the truth is, I will value a more creative idea than money spent in any of those items displayed at the supermarkets. We will end up with uniform gifts after Valentine’s day. Why wouldn’t Kenyans get out of their way and do something extra ordinary, after all we love Valentines so so so so much.
How about making your loved ones, a surprise meal, one that you have been practicing for a while and today is the day to prove that you can actually cook? How about designing a card instead of buying the one from the supermarket? How about organizing an off day for your loved one, so that you can plan to spend the day indoors? Or taking a long drive outside the city, just talking to one another?
How about sitting down together and reminiscing about the old memories, a moment to rekindle your love? How about just sitting down and planning about your future, building castles, an expression that your future has your mate in picture, not just a one day celebration!
My point is, if you really, really have to celebrate Valentine’s day, of course it is your choice, go out your way and add some creativity. Stay out of the same old ideas, dinner at this or that restaurant, radio dedications, surprised office delivery, you did the same last time, what makes you think she is not expecting you to do the same?
For those who do not care a second about Valentine ’s Day, no pressure, it is just a 24 hour day, so stay calm!!
To my Norwegian friends in Kristiansand, receive my sincere condolences following the tragic loss of one of your students early this week, through a road accident in Kenya! Be consoled!
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction.”