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Nkem Ndem: Valentine’s Day Is Not A Do-Or-Die Matter

Nkem Ndem

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I am going to be completely honest: I am a huge romantic. I love love…and as such, I certainly adore the idea of a specific day being set aside to celebrate love. Unfortunately, though, I haven’t had much luck with Valentine’s Day!

My earliest memory of the holiday is of my bubble literally bursting after a package I found in my schoolbag (and had been so excited about) revealed a rusty GL neck-chain which my secret crush -who sadly, wasn’t the guy I fancied at the time- had obtained from his grandmother’s box of rejected jewelries and placed in a card designed with the picture of a half-eaten apple and a mouth that said “You are so delicious”.

Even worse was Valentine’s Day 2008, My 3rd year at Covenant University, when a porter at Deborah Hall, one of school hostels, seized the bag of provisions my mother had sent to me through a family friend, Obinna, with claims that Valentine gifts were not allowed from males at the female hostels. The thought of that day still brings tears to my eyes. It was the worst experience ever. Not only did I have to deal with the pain of realizing that I would have to survive the next 4 weeks without Milk, Milo, Rice krispies, Titus Sardines and other school-life necessities, I also had to sit through hours of watching other girls gush over the Val gifts their boyfriends managed to smuggle into the hall and silently wonder when “amoshine”.

Over the years, I have come to realize that contrary to what romantic comedies had me believing since I was about 6, Valentine’s Day actually isn’t all that great. In reality, it is more like a number of the fancy clubs on Lagos Island- the idea of the club is way better than the actual club in itself. The music is so loud you are in a constant state of stress; the people suck; you spend so much money but never have any fun really; yet, you keep coming back, telling yourself that will it get better.

Let’s face it, Nigerians are submerged in the cultural hypnosis that nudges them to associate true love and commitment with Valentine’s Day. I consider this a form of “conditioning” as the Valentine’s Day of today so obviously has nothing to do with real love. It is now a highly commercialized day of forced love with the main beneficiaries being brands that get to sell you anything from red flowers and chocolates to exorbitant destination getaways. Even worse, having a date on this day, also, has become a status symbol more than anything else, and for some God-knows-why reason, being able to celebrate Valentine’s Day means that you are somehow better or more successful than your single friends.

Quite honestly, the level of pressure this holiday brings is worse than that of a shaken bottle of Coke. The singles who dream of being coupled up, face the pressure of finding a date at all costs; those who are dating feel the pressure to find the ultimate gift or pull off the most original and meaningful romantic gesture ever; and Nigerian girls who like to show off their Val gifts certainly do not want to be at the bottom of the totem pole, so, they weary their men and literally everyone else with their demands. In fact, even the men -especially the stingy and weak ones- who do not want to deal with all the pressure, say and do all they can to get away with not celebrating it. You find them making such silly statements as “every day is Valentine’s day”, “Can’t you see it’s quarter to Buhari O’clock?”, or “Love should be spontaneous and not contrived, Valentine’s day defeats that purpose”. Some even go as far as breaking up with their girlfriends days before February 14th.

The truth is, Valentine’s Day celebrations is not a do-or-die affair. The choice to go ahead with the celebration is up to you and if you decide you don’t want it or that the day is not for you, no one will kill you (hopefully). Of course, the sentiment behind the day is probably worth celebrating but…whether you choose to abstain from the celebrations, or whether you go along with the commercialized way we presently celebrate the holiday, note that your grand gestures will not be able to replace emotional intimacy if the security of your bond is already in question. Also, for those who are single and filled with resentment for people with partner to celebrate the holiday with…please, stop it. Stop jealous. The day is not just for those who have partners, and as such, you are not required to have a “bae” to enjoy it. Make the most of the day. And if not for anything, take full advantage of this day because it is a day in your life.

I am hoping this February 14th will be pleasant for everyone really. Surely, every Nigerian can use a bit of love at this time as we keep standing together #IstandwithNigeria

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xx

Nkem Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for copywriting, editing and proofreading. She is also a content creator (web, T.V, radio) who has had stints with Jumia and SpiceTV Africa e.t.c. Now she works at Glam Africa as Online editor and BellaNaija as Features writer. E-mail: [email protected]; IG: @kem_dem; Twitter: @ndemv

31 Comments

  1. #Proudnigerian

    February 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    It’s a day set aside to celebrate love. good for you if you have one but if you don’t it doesn’t mean you lack love. He makes everything beautiful in his own time. I am single not because I do not have a ” toaster” but I choose to be since I have not met the ONE. I do not beleive in flings and what not it just has to be right lol. Enjoy your valentine if you have one and if you don’t, open your bible and read John 3:16 For God so loved the world. …..meditate on a deeper kind of love!!??

    • Omodolapo

      February 9, 2017 at 11:13 pm

      O Lordy Lord!!!!! Am I the only person that saw the “Stop jealous”. Babe, I love your humour – “a La reference” to a Nollywood actress. Lol

  2. Luchi

    February 9, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    You kept saying “this holiday” . And I’m like am i the only one that didn’t know that Vals day is a holiday. As in a no work day?? What do I know

  3. Juanita

    February 9, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Honestly!!! This has made my day!! All the fuss about Valentine’s Day was starting to drive me insane!! Celebrating Valentine’s Day really isn’t a do or die affair!! I always wonder why people make being single seem like a crime on or before Valentine’s Day!!! Gosh!!

  4. Ure

    February 9, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Lol @amoshine!!!

  5. Ure

    February 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    …like a shaken bottle of Coke. Gotta love your analogies, Nkem

  6. Ure

    February 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    And yea abeg. The Vals Day craze is similar to the whole diamonds are forever crap. It’s all about commercialization. Another campaign to cause people to spend foolishly or rate or rank their “love”. Gold is really more valuable! The size of the diamond doesn’t say anything about his love for you. Also, Vals Day is not THE DAY to show your love for each other. Do the best with what you’ve gat. Take your girlfriends out for dinner on Vals Day, and know that several people sitting with “significant others” at a restaurant on Vals Day don’t totally like their partners. They’d probably rather be with someone else. Lol!! Ok. That was the cynic in me… but you get the point

  7. Adaure

    February 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Its not a do or die affiar. You can set aside any day of the year to celebrate love with your loved ones. After val’s day, what’s next? If you treat the person without any atom of love or adoration until the next val’s day, it really makes no sense.

  8. Disguised

    February 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    All I can think about is the people with side chicks and the ones that know they are side chicks.

    Well you will find out soon. Spread love jare, It could be you taking ur Mum or father out on that day. Not bf and gf thing.

  9. Canary

    February 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Couldn’t have said it any better.

  10. Hian

    February 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    LOL. Yes oh! PLEASE stop it! Stop jealous. I see I’m not the only one who is in love with the catch phrase. Lizzy Anjorin though. Lol

  11. Chisom Owoseni

    February 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    True, Valentine is not a do or die affairs. We all can find love if not, love yourself and treat yourself to a lovely meal/ dinner or lunch or even buy yourself a gift you’ve been longing to have . You actually don’t have to wait for anyone to do that for you. Fortunately, I have a man I love and everyday is Valentine.

  12. Seyi

    February 9, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Madam, you are only writing this long email because you are single and lonely. If you had a boo, you will know that it is a do or die affair.

    • Kay

      February 9, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      See perspective! Lol na wa o

    • IfINoTellYouMyNameNko?

      February 9, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Go get some wisdom !!!

  13. Anne

    February 9, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Na wa o. I just hope that people mature quickly in this generation. Why should you be influenced, do something against your conscience or get stressed out on Val’s day. That day will pass. Do something spiritually , mentally or intellectually constructive.

  14. Well done Ma!

    February 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Waawu. You have really repented. Second article this year and it is also tame. Well done Ma! But sha, I miss your wahala articles small sha.

  15. Nito

    February 9, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    “In fact, even the men -especially the stingy and weak ones- who do not want to deal with all the pressure, say and do all they can to get away with not celebrating it. You find them making such silly statements as “every day is Valentine’s day”, “Can’t you see it’s quarter to Buhari O’clock?”, or “Love should be spontaneous and not contrived,”

    This sounds like a direct contradiction to the whole not a do or die affair because the mind set that if as a man you don’t want to celebrate valentines day you are either weak or stingy.

    @Nkem please do clarify this?

    • Blahblahblah

      February 10, 2017 at 5:22 am

      But you know she cannot be ‘Nkem Ndem’ if she has not portrayed men as weak.kmt.

    • Nkem Ndem

      Nkem Ndem

      February 10, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      I haven’t said that a man who doesn’t want to celebrate valentines day is either weak or stingy. I merely added “ESPECIALLY the stingy and weak ones…”

  16. IfINoTellYouMyNameNko?

    February 9, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I agree with the writer, Nkem! It’s a shame that most people want to belong therefore follow the crowd. It’s kinda like the same as everybody wanna marry smh that’s why they rush into the marriage and come rushing out of it.

  17. IJ

    February 9, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    “It is now a highly commercialized day of forced love with the main beneficiaries being brands that get to sell you anything from red flowers and chocolates to exorbitant destination getaways” — I couldn’t agree more! In a world where the average person seeks to fit in and keep up with the Joneses, people really don’t care if they are commercial pawns. Nonetheless, for those who truly love and celebrate love in small ways every day, Valentine’s Day can be meaningful. Alas, if one valuates himself/herself or his/her relationship (or lack thereof) based on Valentine’s Day, then there’s a deeper issue to be addressed.

  18. Min

    February 10, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I feel that Valentine’s Day is just like Mother’s or Father’s Day. You might not tell your mother how much she means to you everyday, so that dedicated day, Mother’s Day gives you an opportunity to go the extra mile & remind your mother just how much. Like many mothers, mine knows when it’s mothers day, & even though she doesn’t live in the same country as I do, if I forget to show her how much I appreciate & love her on that day, I know she will wonder why. Valentine’s Day also isn’t just for couples. Your loved ones can be celebrated too. It’s a day dedicated to love.

  19. Tolu

    February 10, 2017 at 4:40 am

    A friend actually told me she would break up with her boyfriend if doesn’t propose to her this Valentine! I blame BellaNaija wedding for this.

  20. Shadow

    February 10, 2017 at 6:23 am

    They seized your provisions on Vals day cos valentine gifts are not allowed???? In a University????? ??

    I agree sha. . . Val no be do or die abeg.

    And you gon shine when u gon shine

  21. Osanamengo

    February 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

    It’s actually not a do or die matter… Good article

  22. Sam

    February 10, 2017 at 9:13 am

    it certainly not a do or die affaire, but it been a day mandated to show love to our-self’s not just bf or girl gf, so we gaa to spread the love accordingly and the way it pleases God Almighty…KUDOS TO ALL…

  23. Me

    February 10, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Yeah, I shaa wondered that in this ‘University’ where Val gifts are not allowed if they had to lock you guys all up, that the guys only had to use the window to gift their val’s. Yet it didn’t stop you from knowing so much about the ish to write about it? Windows must have been used a lot in your school than the doors.

  24. bijouxthisbijouthat

    February 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    “”Covenant University, when a porter at Deborah Hall, one of school hostels, seized the bag of provisions my mother had sent to me through a family friend, Obinna, with claims that Valentine gifts were not allowed from males at the female hostels. The thought of that day still brings tears to my eyes. It was the worst experience ever. ”
    Mehn Covenant University is some high level Senior Secondary School… even my SSS was more liberal during Vals day,i mean so far as it didnt contain any alcoholic beverages or some suggestive …
    My only comments about Vals day is, it a pile of hogwash highly commercialized something to encourage promiscuity..
    My partner knows not to expect anything extra for me.. every day is a way to show love and respect to everyone

    • Truth

      February 10, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Damn i pity your partner!

  25. Ogechi

    February 11, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Yes o! It’s not a do or die affair. Make the day come and go so that people’s heads can right.

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