By Francis Ewherido
Three weeks ago, I jokingly wrote: “Talking about Valentine’s Day, the person(s) who fixed the presidential elections for February 14, must be very unromantic. Dem no see any other day?” The election has now been postponed to March 28, 2015, although the shift has nothing to do with the Valentine’s Day’s celebrations; INEC gave other reasons. I guess lovers of Valentine’s Day are among the winners of the postponement.
One of the valuable lessons I have learnt in marriage is that you should “know those things that are important to your spouse and learn to take them as important… It can be very painful and annoying when your spouse trivializes what you consider fundamental or desecrates that which you consider sacred.” Valentine’s Day is important to my wife, so it has become important to me. So what God has joined, the presidential election will no longer put asunder, albeit temporarily.
But permit me to digress a little to politics. The postponement of the elections, just like the presence of foreign soldiers on our soil to help defeat Boko Haram, diminishes my pride as a Nigerian, its propriety or otherwise notwithstanding. Since 1999, when democratic institutions were restored, we knew there will be elections in 2015. Since after the 2011 elections, INEC knew and has been reassuring us that the 2015 elections will be better organized. Why is 2015, all of a sudden, taking the colouration of the self-induced chaos of 1993? Why can’t we make national pride supreme, do things right ab initio and prove a skeptical world wrong for once? Sad, very sad. I am also sad to continue reading and listening to all the ethno-religious diatribes and hate sermons we call campaigns in the various mass and social media for another six weeks. I thought we’ll be done with that by today. Anyway, we are waiting, six weeks is not eternity. I feel strongly about these elections, from the presidential to the state house of assembly elections.
So much for politics, this is a marriage and family turf and love is in the air. Today is Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate love and romance. Like beauty, what love and romance are, are in the eyes of the beholder and there partly lie the reasons for the abuse of Valentine’s Day that has made it susceptible to criticism and condemnation. But for married couples whatever we do today is just part of our normal everyday entitlements.
Valentine’s Day celebration in Nigeria does not have a specific national pattern like in China, India and Korea that have modified versions of Valentine’s Day celebration. Ours is more of follow-follow of the western world and do am as you see am. The celebration is suppressed in some Muslim countries because they believe it is a Christian feast and that it also promotes immorality. This perception of promoting immorality is not restricted to Muslims. Many Christians feel the same, but this is my take. Mr. A uses his television set to watch only pornography. He later sells the set to Mr. B who is tuned to mainly news and religious broadcast channels. So is the problem the television set or the user? Just because some people are abusing a feast does not make the feast wrong. Young adults, males and females, should go out there and have fun. Difficult as it is, they should put God in the equation and they will just be fine. For couples, Valentine’s Day is a special day to renew, refresh and profess their love for each other. Spouses should go out there and enjoy themselves. Younger couples should leave the children behind. Children should wait for their time. Once in a while couples need to be by themselves, today is one of such days.
But if a pregnancy results from your Valentine’s Day activities—now I am talking to both couples and the unmarried who overstep their bounds—keep it; there are no unwanted pregnancies, only unplanned pregnancies. Even when pregnancies are said to be unplanned, we must realize that every child is a gift of and from God, the master planner. On a lighter note, children are like goals in a soccer match. At the end of the day, they all count —whether it a Lionel Messi’s spectacular or a defender’s manual labour goal or one of those crappy goals. Many of these unplanned children do turn out to be spectacular goals. That is why I never stop wondering what could have been for those that were robbed the opportunity to live and attain their full potentials. Unless you refrain, you might just be aborting a future president, governor, senator, doctor, professor, first modern day Catholic Pope of African descent, Soyinka, Einstein, Michael Jackson, Ronaldo, Dangote and many other potential greats and geniuses.
There are many versions of the origin of St Valentine’s Day, including its association with the ancient pagan Roman festival of Lupercalia, partly in honour of Lupa, the she-wolf, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. The association of its origin with a pagan feast has put off some Christians. Some critics complain about the commercialization and secularization of the day. The spiritual essence and some thoughts for St. Valentine after whom the day is named have diminished over time and the erosion does not look like abating any time soon. However, I still feel obliged to wish all couples and men and women of goodwill with heart-filled love a happy Valentine’s Day.