The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Celebrate Love and Stop the Violence

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If what we believe about Valentine's Day is real, why should the one billion march against violence, especially violence against women, coincide with Valentine's Day, a day meant to celebrate shared

love among couples -- married and unmarried? Does it mean that despite setting aside a day like this, human beings are incapable of giving ultimate love and respect?

Valentine's Day is value-laden, and most people need to realise that. While it is an occasion for people to celebrate love, what we ask is how deep is the love that is being celebrated?

How many hearts are broken on a day when people celebrate mutual love, trust and respect through flowers, chocolates, champagne and music?

This year's typology of Valentine has become a talking point because world-renowned sportsman, South African paralympic champion Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius, gunned down his girlfriend at dawn on Valentine's Day.

He shot her four times, but initially told police that he thought that he was shooting a burglar.

The whole world is devastated because this was an act committed by someone who, against odds, achieved a lot, and earned international acclaim and respect. Pistorius was an inspiration just like our own Elliott Mujaji.

Thus a day meant for people to celebrate love turned into a day of mourning, and people are asking why. Why should another young woman's life be cut short through wanton violence?

While Pistorius gave his girlfriend this bizarre Valentine's present and forced South Africa to look itself in the mirror, we also ask how many couples physically and emotionally abused each other on Thursday?

If the figure is greater than that of people who enjoy normal and unconditional love on a daily basis, is there need to set aside a day to celebrate love?

Musician Tina Turner sang, "who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken." This is a human frailty that we still have to come to terms with. Just like any other day, many hearts were broken on Valentine's Day.

The other Valentine typology is that it is a Western lifestyle steeped in consumerism. Thus the argument that businesses benefit more from the day every year than couples is true. This is why businesses fiercely market the day because they record huge profits, sometimes at the expense of human life.

The build-up to the day also puts a lot of couples under pressure, men in particular because women expect to be pampered on a day they believe to be very special.

But when a global role model like Pistorius commits such a heinous crime on Valentine's Day, it is time that the world comes together and looks for means and ways to put an end to domestic violence.

The future and dreams of the young woman, which were cut short and many others, should also be a reminder that we are living a façade.

We have also failed to realise that relationships in themselves are based on power and in the power matrix one party always emerges stronger.

Most people in abusive relationships live in denial, giving absurd reasons to protect the violence they suffer, some on a daily basis.

Those that suffer domestic violence also seem not to care about what it does to their children. They become self-centred.

As we reflect on this year's Valentine, let us read the poem "I got flowers today", which is available on the Internet, and, which has also become a springboard on dealing with domestic violence.

Those who send and receive flowers following acts of domestic violence will realise that a woman should not acknowledge receiving flowers on her grave.

When Pistorius' girlfriend says, "I got flowers today", we know that they will be flowers given in memory of her.

When she "says" that, we should also not blame apartheid for making him own guns and eventually killing his girlfriend.

There is no reason under the sun why people should be allowed to get away with domestic violence. Dialogue is paramount in conflict resolution.

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