By Tsepo Munkombwe
Harare, February 14, 2014 – It’s the 14th of February and one might have wondered what really was so special about today. It was Valentine’s Day of course! Red attire, flowers, chocolates, teddy bears and gift packs exchanged hands in the streets and shops of the capital as these most treasured “lovers day” fast moving consumer goods got sold out in a few cases.
However, excitement was largely suppressed due to the prevailing economic hardships, save for those who earn obscene salaries if bad publicity has not caught up with them.
High unemployment, late salary payments and retrenchments and a generally evasive US dollar did not completely deter a sizeable lot who donned the central business district in unisex red and white gear – the appropriate colours which signalled that indeed love was in the air, with a brave display of “tomorrow is another day” attitude.
Some young couples were noticeably dressed to kill in order to demonstrate to the world that they were indeed appreciating and loving each other as they strolled and took each other for lunch and some looking forward to dinner surprises. Boutiques and hair saloons reported brisk business as shoppers scrambled to secure the best of red dresses, suits, shoes and panties.
“People have been flocking into our shop buying mostly red and white attires, so we cannot really complain this Valentine’s Day. We almost failed to cope during the early hours of the morning and at lunch time”, said one shop attendant at a First Street boutique identified as Yeukai.
Most women got pampered by their men as they were sponsored to visit saloons of their choice-regardless of cost. It was clear that no for an answer was not today’s option.
Remarked Tichawana, a down town hairdresser: “Ladies were coming for manicure and pedicure and also for the change of hairstyles and thereby boosting our business. We have no complaint!”
For some, especially broke men, the thought of buying presents and taking their loved ones for meals at exclusive restaurants and hotels made them uncooperative and unreachable on their smart phones, with their social media platforms remaining largely inactive during most of the day.
“My man Kudzi is not reachable today. I have sent him texts, Facebook messages and even called but without any luck. It’s unusual for him not to have called me by this lunch hour especially on Valentine’s Day”, sobbed Chipo, a receptionist at a city estate agent as she signed for a dozen bouquets of flowers delivered for her workmates throughout the day.
At US$20 teddy bears were costing slightly more in some shops, while flowers were US$5 a bunch. But with many people prioritising the putting of food on their family tables the high priced items were ignored.
Loveness, a florist, said business started slowly low at Africa Unity Square where she had displayed her roses throughout the day but picked up later in the day as they got sold out. She said admiration outclassed actual sales clinches as people admired her flowers although money was evidently very scarce.
“Last year’s Valentine’s Day was more vibrant than this one but maybe it’s because of the economic situation. People have not money I tell you”, she said.
Charles, who trebles as flower, airtime and sweet vendor along Jason Moyo Street also complained about how low his business was when compared to the same “lovers’ day” last year when all three products were sold out by mid morning and had to replenish his stock twice.
Historically, St Valentine was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome. Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of the month of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial which probably occurred around AD 270. Others proffer that Christians may be unknowingly legitimising a pagan celebration.
Despite all ancient and modern theories, February is the month of love and romance as couples celebrate love peacefully and joyfully on Valentine’s Day.