By: Howard Feldman
Not for the first time, South Africans will by partying like it’s the 1843. Whereas the oldest record of a Valentine message being sent, was a poem written by a French medieval duke named Charles to his wife in 1415, it wasn’t until the 1840s that the first Valentine Day cards were mass produced and sold in the United States.
Just like in 1840, dinner in South Africa on 14 February is likely to be by candle light. Not unlike 13 or 15 February, primarily because the country has either enough electricity to cook the meal or to light it. But definitely not both.
Valentine’s Day is the traditional day of love, according to Good Housekeeping … although some historians believe that Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine on 14 February, while others believe that the holiday actually has its origins in a Pagan fertility festival called “Lupercalia,” which was celebrated on 15 February in ancient Rome. Dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus, the day was celebrated by sacrificing animals and smacking women with animal hides, a practice that was believed to encourage fertility.
Kid you not.
It was only at the end of the 5th century that Roman Pope Gelasius officially declared the date of 14 February “St. Valentine’s Day”. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, though, that the holiday became associated with love and romance, a tradition that first started from the common belief in France and England that birds started their mating season on 14 February.
Not making this up.
Its dubious genesis aside, like it or not, Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, love, dedication and words of affirmation.
And yet, I would love nothing more this day than to send a “Dear John” message to Cyril Ramaphosa and his political family. The message? I am just not that into you.
I am tired of the empty promises that you won’t do it again, that the African National Congress has stolen for the very last time and that hand on heart (not Cupid’s), this time South Africans should have faith in the power of love, commitment and reform.
According to Hallmark, Americans send around 145 million cards each year on Valentine’s Day. I would send just one and the message would be clear. They also spend close to 30 billion American dollars on gifts, which – thanks to the ANC – is a lot more in South African rands this year than it was last year. Or the year before.
There is a dangerous modern trend to pathologise previous partners. Facebook is filled with “Are you dating a narcissist?” or “ Gaslighting” references. Abuse is loosely defined, all which results in the real narcissists or gas lighters or abusers being able to hide amongst those who are being labelled as such.
The ANC is a case in point.
There is little doubt that South Africans have been gas-lit for years. We have made to think that we are the problem and that all we need to do is to trust NDZ and all will be OK. We have been ignored by an organisation that is so drunk on itself and what it considers its relevance, that it has failed to see the suffering in front of it.
The theft, the incompetence and the heavy handedness is a form of abuse that will only end when the relationship does.
When this Valentine’s Day dinner is held by candle light, when there is less food on the table because of a weakening currency and the meal is part heated because of loadshedding, consider if you want to be one of the 6 million couples who get engaged each year, or if perhaps it is the perfect day to pen that Dear John letter instead.