Why Do Africans Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Walking around these unkempt Nairobi streets, my stomach churns ever so slightly at the sight of all these sheep. No, the Central Business District has not been infested by mutton, but there are so many people donning red, carrying flowers, buying chocolate, being sheepish. It is pitiful.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for love. I’m also all for flowers and candy and jewelry and gifts, the lady will swear to both these facts. But riddle me this, Human Being, how is complying to being told “Go forth and love today” different from agreeing to arranged marriage?

Personally, I rather the affection be a product of emotion and not some mass social convention. But a lot of you don’t seem to mind, and I guess that’s cool……

….if you’re not African.

For those that don’t know, the story behind Valentine’s Day is essentially that a bunch of saints named Valentine got martyred on this day. One of the was supposedly slain in Africa. I believe the Roman Valentine is the reason for the season. Well, the original season. The credit for this bastardization we celebrate now goes to a bunch of very smart capitalists who realized that they need to maximize on the 1st Quarter incomes of the masses.

What does that have to do with Africa? At the time these Saints were getting martyred and these Europeans were getting sappy and romantic, we were getting colonized, brainwashed, shipped off like cheap goods, murdered and torture for sport and profit. Speaking of profit, I’m willing to bet money that a few hundred years ago, a slave or 20 were given to somebody as a Valentine’s gift. Better yet, I’m willing to bet that our ancestors weren’t allowed to celebrate the holiday.

Now riddle me this, African reader; name one major African holiday that the whole world celebrates. It’s OK, I’ll wait.


OK, here’s an easier question: name one African holiday that the whole of Africa celebrates.

Still nothing?

Alright, here’s the last question; name 3 holidays that tell you how and when to feel or do something. After doing that, pick the ones that are specific to your country or continent.

I can think of 5, but for the sake of argument here are 3: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and none of them are uniquely African, nay Kenyan. Fair enough?

In my travels I’ve come to learn that most countries in Africa(at least those that I’ve visited) had traditional days allocated for such things. Another funny thing I’d learned was that countries outside the continent that got freedom early or that were never enslaved to begin with, picked their own days for love, their own Mother’s Day, their own day to honor women. So on and so forth. But we. We Africans. We’re still waiting to be told when to do what by whoever.

And that bothers me.

Which is why I refuse to go buy flowers grown in Italy and chocolates from the UK, and some trinket from China for my lady who is Kenyan….because everybody else is doing it. I’d rather buy her something one May 3rd because it’s Wednesday, or our anniversary(which was yesterday) but Valentine’s, I steer clear.

If not to make some political statement, because she’s not just another girl in the world.

That said, I hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day.

3 thoughts on “Why Do Africans Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

  1. You really don’t buy her flowers! Dayuum
    Anyway I was shocked when i saw this guys in Kileleshwa who feel so up in the air the actually celebrate thanks giving!

    • Wouldn’t go out of my way to, frankly. I give her things when she isn’t expecting them. And if she is, I just hold on to it until her expectations pass.

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