My Sweet Valentine

The "Performance" Of Valentine's Day In A Third World Country

by Gottfried Moh

My Sweet Valentine

Every year as the fourteenth day of February approaches, there is a sense of excitement in the air, people start feeling jittery, some even empty their bank accounts to purchase items for the ones they claim to love, but is that really what that day is about?

For the benefit of that for those who haven’t already read the tale, legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome, When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. You can’t deny the logic that.

But a simple, compassionate Valentine did come forward, and he stood up for love. He began to secretly conduct soldiers before they went off to war, in spite the emperor’s orders. In 269 A.D., Emperor Claudius found out about the secret ceremonies. He had Valentine thrown into prison and deemed that he would be put to death.

As Valentine was awaiting execution, he fell in love with a blind girl who happened to be the jailer’s daughter. On the eve of his execution, with no writing instruments available, Valentine is said to have written her a sonnet in ink that he squeezed from violets. His words reportedly made the blind woman see again. It was a brief romance because the next day, Valentine was clubbed to death by Roman executioners.

For a second, imagine that Valentine was a Nigerian. His name wouldn’t be Valentine anymore for very obvious reasons, it will be more along the lines of Livinus, or maybe for effect, Romanus. He wouldn’t be secretly marrying any couples, he’d be more involved in politics like our very own Father Mbaka. Would his mom let him walk eyes wide open into a marital commitment with a blind girl? You be the judge.

Again, paying the ultimate price for “true love”. All those “I love you pass my mama” guys, can they show the workings? Nobody is dying for a sister out here! Only believable part is the miracle of the sonnet, our pastors are more than capable of pulling that off.

Of course, besides the fact that people are totally ignorant of what exactly the day is about, they completely go crazy with it. Why on earth do couples wear matching red outfits? What is the significance? Igbo brothers take it a step further by wearing white shoes. Congratulations chief, you look like a cake topping.

Pro tip for the day: do not, I mean, don’t be found within five feet of a mall. If you’re like me that’s totally averse to large crowds, your best bet would be to stay at home, turn on the television and watch a movie. There is absolutely no need to head out to join the teeming numbers of people who in my estimation do not eventually get to have a good time, unless of course, you have an NBA basketball player’s kind of money, in which case you could rent out the entire mall for the love of your life.

It has come to our notice that some females buy gifts for themselves and pose on social media like the items were gifted to them by their significant other. Words aren’t sufficient enough to convey my distaste. Look, if you had the big bucks to afford the gifts for yourself, it’s a thing of pride. Do we still categorize this under toxic masculinity or patriarchy or an extreme dose of disillusionment?   On the flip side your Woman Crush Wednesday has been posting “Who wants to be my valentine?” on her Facebook timeline for three days running. Ladies and gentlemen, this is another variant of corporate begging.

Secondary school love was actually where it was at. Pure and unadulterated love (to an extent). Valentines’ day was really special. You deliberately left your locker open during break time in the hope that an admirer would leave you a note or gift or card, or SOMETHING at least. You got back from long break and discovered that nothing new came into the locker, rather your biology note that you just managed to complete with all the existing diagrams had been stolen. Congratulations, you played yourself.

In our culture, the things we value as gifts vary from one individual to the other. I hear these days that the price ceiling for gifts for a boyfriend is a PS4, and the price floor being a pair of boxer shorts and vests.  Does your Nigerian girlfriend really want flowers? I imagine that to them, a fully dressed catfish trumps any bouquet of flowers, whether natural or artificial. Their argument has always been “na flower I go chop?” In fairness to them, the logic behind it isn’t flawed: they are not goats or rams.

The real winners and losers in this debacle are people with multiple partners. On the one hand, you get a lot of gifts from a group of guys you pretend to be in a relationship with, on the other hand, they also want to see you on the same day.

“Ekwensu etinye aka na barb wire”.

For the guy with multiple partners, the horror of Valentine forces your hand, you don’t have the money to fund so many gifts, so you have to rethink your approach. Any wrong move and it blows up in your face.

Do better.