Valentine’s day in Africa is fairly a foreign concept that came from the west. It has gained popularity in Africa mainly because of access to international media and the internet. It is supposed to celebrate love and more and more people have found unique ways to express that love. Some people will wait till valentines or other special occasions, others will not allow one day to dictate when they can celebrate their love.
In some of our African households we did not think that our parents loved each other because they did not express their love the way we saw it on television.
There were no flowers or fancy dates and our mothers did not wear red or receive roses. The truth, however,is that there was love, it was subtle and often overlooked but it was there.
It was that school fees were paid, and a house was bought. It was that groceries were provided and food was cooked. It was that the house was clean and clothes were washed. Everyone understood what the other needed to do and it was done.
This generation may see it as oppression but it worked pretty well. Family units tended to be way more stable then [maybe not always happy but definitely stable]. It could have been from a sense of duty, but it helped. Even when things were not working out between the couple, they sacrificed for their children so they lived in a stable home.
Granted times are different now and the truth is we want more, we want the flowers, perfume, dinners, red dress and all the romantic gestures.
It can be that there is a lot of Western influence but it is also exposure to wanting more and putting in the effort.
Businesses have not been left behind and started to take advantage of the different celebrations and holidays to boost sales. Valentine’s day being one of them. From the first of February you will notice various places decorated in red and heart shaped cut outs.
A lot of the celebrations have the Western influences of fancy dinners, flowers, and even chocolate and lately people have been going all out to show their love. The most interesting one I came across is the Love bridge [Pont des Arts] that has couple put padlocks on the rail of the bridge with their inscription of a significant date or their names. It was recently removed due to it being too heavy to stay upright. There is a similar Love bridge in Frankfurt, Germany [Eiserner Steg]
In Kenya there have been some ridiculous valentines offers such as valentines the Villa Rosa Kempinski one worth 5.4millinion ksh [54,000USD] for two nights https://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/life/kempinski-spices-valentines-day-sh5-4-million-two-nights-offer
Whether you decide on Netflix and chill, to walk together to work, go for a dinner date. Love should not be confined into just one day. Get to know your partner’s love language and do something in line with that so it actually means something.
Maybe even doing the quiz to find out each other love languages could be what you decide to do as a way of getting to know each other better. Here is the link https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/
Here is a list of some unique ideas that are out there that may inspire people to make this year’s valentine’s day extra special.
- Concert /poetry/ spoken Word/ Comedy show/ Karaoke
- Cook together
- No phones for 24 hours [Gift of undivided attention]
- Be a local tourist for the day
- Skating together
- Spa day [for both of you]
- Dance classes
- Pottery classes :
- Playing a sport /board game
- Horse riding
- Wine tasting
- Go Karting
- Zip Lining
- Go hiking/running together/ Ride bikes
- Do a photoshoot together
- Amusement park
- Watch Sunset together
- Work out together
- Road trip
- Charity work together
- Learning or participating in a new skill together.
- Handwritten Letter
- Themed mug
- A plant
- A book : that you can read together e.g. The Five Love Languages
- A book full of notes from you
- Gadgets [phones, watches, laptops e.t.c]
- Gift baskets
Lorna Abwonji is Head Designer/Creative Director at Mia Mara Creations.
She is the Project manager at Dress Up Kenya. RAFDA 2008 Finalist & FA254 Finalist 2014.
Lorna is a 2016 YALI Mandela Washington Fellow.