For me, the contrast in the celebration of Val’s day then and now is excruciatingly far apart. If there was any dint of similarity in the occasion between these 2 life periods of mine, then it will take a journey which includes crossing the Red Sea to discover it.
Valentine’s Day was another day in my village. And oh, yes! We did know Valentine Day in Mmaampehia. However, it remained just a matter of knowing by the mention of it; nothing more. As to the content of the pie, our courage needed a sea of encouragement to even dare pose that question to our parents. If the Fetteh stream water ever ‘boozed’ or intoxicated any child enough to ask for insights into the thrust of Val's day, he or she will never hear the end of harsh reprimands. And to be sure it sinks well, the cautions will fly in from all quarters in the village. Somewhere along the line, it was blood-tight tradition for all Mmaampehians to be anti- Val’s day.
So you know I was in the mind of almost all the kids in Mmaampehia. “What is Valentine’s Day all about?” “Is Valentine’s Day as devilish as it has been portrayed to us”? My answer was not too long in coming. But definitely, there were no answers in Mmaampehia. Speaking to girls in general here was a sacred act for my friends and I. Especially in the month of love (February), it became a self-inflicted taboo.
My exodus from the village of ‘dark’ understanding to the dawn of the new age city of Accra is a mini Valentine on its own. The package of the city includes blessed nights in the best 4 & 5-star hotels in Ghana, unforgettable trips to the finest beach resorts in Ghana and enjoyment at the top restaurants in Accra. From my position today, I can give you an update on every new hotel in Ghana.
I believe in all sincerity that our parents back in Mmaampehia acted in our best interest in making Valentine alien to us. The city ‘wassop’ version of Valentine has it turned into a frenzy party season other than the classy nights of love at a cool Accra hotel. The romantic Valentine night at one of the hotels in Ada, Ghana is now substituted for an all-night clubbing session. In Accra, they all know Valentine. They must! Unlike Mmaampehia, parents in Accra will try hiding Valentine from their kids in vain. That exercise will end in futility if they tried. If the children do not hear enough from friends at school, the television and radio ads will be all too willing to do the needed top-ups. Whether the city idea of Valentine is the best for these 5 to 15 year-olds to know, is a debate for another day.
The concept of Valentine is a brave one. Valentine is the endearing love story of a Christian martyr (Valentinus) who defied the odds and inspired faith and hope in a young blind girl. The lady, Julia was the daughter of Valentinus’ jailer. When Valentinus had explained Jesus Christ to Julia and prayed with her, the young girl received her sight. His final note before he died was addressed to Julia and inscribed with the end-phrase ‘….from your Valentine…’ To date, that story has remained a symbol of love and deep affection, particularly romantic/erotic love. For married couples, dating pairs and young and old people in love, Valentine is the lit season to show it. Spending goes with the season because as Kool & the Gang will sing it “if you say you love somebody, you’ve got to let them know about it”
My Valentine days lately are special. The city of Accra adds spice to the season. At least a good number of patrons still know what Valentine is all about. The ‘wild’ hotels who have been long in the business are smart enough to tailor Vals day packages to meet the desires of their clientele. For the right time, in the right place with the right people, Valentine day in Ghana is pleasantly special.
Come Valentine season this year, my valentine will really ‘feel’ me! For now, I will have to make up my mind on either of Peduase Village Resort, Lansdown Hotel, Beige Village or Legacy Tribe Resort as my Vals weekend get-away. Then I will have to choose between Golden Tulip, Hotel Casarere, Holiday Inn Hotel and Roots Hotel Apartment for the d-day itself, the 14th. And for her birthday leading up to Val's day, it’s a dinner and night at Tropical Enclave, @ Home Boutique or Sunlodge Hotel won’t be bad ‘kraa’. After all, Valentine is the season of love.
Credit: Kofi Baiden, Jumia Travel