18 February 2013

Namibia: Mixed Reaction to Valentine's Day

Eenhana — Namibia and the rest of Africa joined the world to celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14, with florists and gift shops doing brisk business last Thursday.

However, not everyone is buying into the hype. "Who is Saint Valentine? My understanding is that he was a promiscuous someone so why should l celebrate him? l don't believe in Valentine's Day and therefore l did not buy my wife anything. I can spoil her any other day but just not on this one," said Pedro Lusakalulu, a vendor at Eenhana.

His sentiments were shared by a surprisingly big number of people, most of them men.

Said Tangeni Hidipo, a taxi driver in Ohangwena Region: "I had to buy Ferro Rocher chocolates, a teddy and roses. I do not believe in Valentine's Day, because it is just a gimmick by shop owners to raise sales in their shops. I also know that her friends will be showing off so if l had not bought her a present she would have been angry," he said.

Fillipus Nelumbu from Onhuno said he was not interested in commemorating the day on religious grounds. "Valentine's is a pagan festival that started in Rome. It was popular and called the feast of Lupercalia where women would run naked in the streets. Valentine's Day has no biblical justification or Christian background despite the commemoration of Saint Valentine's death," he said.

However, he said he was not compelled to celebrate it and because of that, he made sure he was not wearing red, black or white, the colours believed to be associated with Valentine's Day. Nonetheless, many other people wore Valentine's Day colours last week.

Roses were flying everywhere from florists to the offices of the regional council, banks, restaurants and other offices from morning until midday.

"We are celebrating love and not some illuminati belief that people are associating with this day. I am not doing any ritual but simply spoiling the one l love," said a couple in Oshikango's Dragon City complex.

A female Chinese florist, Xuh Hanau in the Dragon City complex confirmed that people had been dropping by and ordering flowers for their loved ones. "I am now two years in Namibia and our Dragon City complex offers quality products at affordable prices and our Valentine's flowers sold like hot cakes as people were coming from as far as Angola and Oshakati. Our customers were interested and impressed by our modern style of flower arrangements. We did not only sell roses, but also lilies and other flowers," she said.

Bouquets of flowers at Oshikango and Eenhana sold for between N$50 and N$100. Valentine's Day cards sold for N$50 each at most of the Chinese shops in the popular Dragon City complex.

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