By Alvine Kapitako
WINDHOEK – As in most parts of the world many Namibians go out of their way on Valentine’s Day to show love and appreciation to their loved ones.
On the day people express their love by showering their sweethearts with expensive gifts, romantic trips or dinners.
The weeks and days leading to the big day of romance or love – as many would refer to it – retailers cash in on Valentine stock that sell like hot cakes.
But is this what the day is all about or is there more to it than just flowers, chocolates and dinners?
New Era spoke to couples and individuals on their sentiments of Valentine’s Day.
The Director of the Windhoek Islamic Centre, Dr Armas Abdul Malik Shikongo, says the day has no significance to Islam. “I don’t make it a very special day,” he says, adding that his wedding anniversary is what he celebrates.
In some Muslim countries, the day is not observed at all, noted Shikongo.
But since the day is associated with love and “love is a positive thing”, Shikongo says some Muslims take advantage of the day by indeed showering their spouses with love.
Radio personality Franklin Shitaleni, 25, who has been married for one year and seven months says although the day is specifically set aside to celebrate love, for him every day is Valentine’s Day.
His wife, Vistorina, who is better known as Via echoed similar sentiments, adding: “I don’t really make a big fuss about it but I also don’t condemn people who go all out. I think every day should be Valentine’s Day. It shouldn’t be one specific day.”
Nevertheless, the 25-year-old Via says that on Valentine’s Day like any other day she has expectations from her husband.
“I expect to be secure, loved and cared for which is what I receive in any case. But Valentine’s Day will be another excuse to go away and do something together,” Via says.
Franklin says the day does not have to be limited to people who are involved in romance. Children can also surprise their mothers with “flowers or hugs”, he adds.
For 58-year-old Angela Katjimune who has been married for 38 years, the day means showing love to family members.
And everybody she comes into contact with, she adds. The retired human resources practitioner refers to herself as a romantic woman.
“Valentine’s Day has always meant a lot to me because I am a romantic. I have always believed in intimacy, love and sharing everything,” she says.
She explained that Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for her to celebrate and remind other people how valuable they are, her husband Gersom included.
She explains that in her early years of marriage the day did not mean much to her husband, as he is “a very traditional man”.
He says Valentine’s Day is a western practice.
“But I invested in our love. I didn’t wait for him to remind me of Valentine’s Day. I did it myself until he started appreciating that when you love each other you appreciate each other and you go that extra mile. So when I bought him a mug or chocolates for Valentine’s Day, he started appreciating and it eventually became part of his life,” she says with a grin.
For people who believe the day is a western practice, Angela says there is no harm in adapting good western practices and culture.
“What harm does it do?” she asks, saying after all “we are just watering our love on Valentine’s Day.”
Meanwhile, her husband Gersom who is 67 years old admits that if it were not for his wife he would not attach any significant value to the day. The mild-mannered Gersom who speaks with so much charm notes that it is also an opportunity for retailers to make money.
“To me Valentine’s Day is a creation of someone encouraging the love between two people,” Gersom adds.
Angela chipped in saying showing love does not necessarily have to be a costly exercise.
“I really want to emphasise that Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with the commercial value that we put in. It has to do with acknowledging each other’s love,” she says.
Collin Claasen, a manager at Clicks Maerua Mall, says most of the Valentine’s Day promotional stock has been sold out already.
Asked why he thinks there is so much hype on Valentine’s Day, Claasen said people feel that if they don’t do anything on this specific day they might be missing out and hence they climb on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon.
“It’s a special day and many people use it as an excuse to go out of their way to show their loved ones how valuable they are,” explained Claasen.
“Let’s appreciate our women. Let’s love our women. Love your woman enough to go the extra mile. If you’ve never cooked before, let Saturday be the one. This is Valentine’s Day, so go big. You don’t have to go big financially but think big,” advised Franklin.
“The closest you can find love on Valentine’s Day is in Jesus Christ,” said Via who encouraged people to seek love in God first, when asked what her Valentine’s Day message is.