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Four One One

The Valentine’s Day that never was, never will be

Finding love in this country is scarcer than money

There is a saying that Ugandans are romantic, that Ugandan men and women will always outdo themselves just to sustain the illusion of romance.

For what else would explain scenarios where brides fund their own kwanjula? What else would explain men who borrow cars to put up an impression? What else, if not this hope to be regarded as romantic? What else other than the need to love and to be loved? Perhaps, we are not romantic in Uganda, but we chase the feeling of loving and being loved.

It is hard to chase because we have no idea what it really means. Not even our city loves us, unless potholes are proof of love. Not even our President loves us, unless drip irrigation is love. Love is the scarcest thing in this town. So scarce, we try so hard to find it on this one day, aka Valentine’s Day.

The self-love generation

Most Ugandans enter the self-love club after a heart break. Wait a minute, what are you going to love now? The pieces? The grits of the heart?

How do you start to love before you have even healed? And what was the love that was lost? The man who used to call once every day to ask the same questions? The man who could not even recite a poem? The man who has no idea about Luther Vandross?

Our standard of love is too low in Uganda, we are ready to hold and die for anything that seems like love. And what is love when she cannot even afford herself? How will you afford someone who cannot afford themselves? How are you loving someone who cannot transport themselves? What is love in a generation where majority are broke? Not that love is not a preserve for the poor. But love in a country where the poor are pretending to be rich is the problem. In a country where the poor are trying to escape, every heart becomes a ladder, every date becomes a commercial transaction.

Then comes the self-love crew. Beaten, destroyed, confused by the table drops of love, they miss that little love. They know it was mediocre. Or do they even know? You cannot know there is better unless you have seen it. Yet, even that semblance of love was taken away. Love is too scarce in this country, even those who cough romantically will be highly demanded. You could just be complimenting a person in Uganda, next thing you know is you are being introduced as their partner. Wait a minute… I was just appreciating you for looking good. Nothing beyond Tracy. Nothing!

It is not really self-love in Uganda, it is escape, it is disguise, it is a hiding place. Because what is that self-love based on? On one sending themselves flowers on this day? Self-love must come from a place of confidence, not disgruntlement, not to get back at your ex. What is self-love? You posting a million status updates to tell us about it? You saying #SingleandProud? Show us honey, do not tell us. Love does not shout, it speaks, it smiles, it blinks. It is there, you can see and tell that indeed that person is loving themselves.

The Saccos of love

On Valentine’s Day, we also had those, the Mother Theresas of love, the ones who have chosen to serve this country, to not love one heart, but many hearts. To not be loved by one party, but many parties. We had a consortium of hearts. We had people receiving more flowers than they can trace. Worse still, is that these people also had a main bae at home. Now what happens to all these flowers? What happens to all these gifts? Is it not high time we made provisions for our friends that run Saccos of love? It will help support the conundrums of gifts that cannot be traced back to the sender.

The broken hearts

While some hearts became stronger, some became shattered. On this one day, lives changed. Men who had Promised Land titles went missing. Phones got stolen.

When Ugandans have no reason, no excuse for their ‘MIA’, they invent a lost phone scenario. Why is it that you are always losing phones? Of all days, your phone chooses to black out on Valentine’s Day?

Many were promised, few were fulfilled. While some were falling in love, some were getting bitter. Some have now sworn against love. We have those who cannot believe their partner did not buy flowers from that Instagram girl? ‘I can’t stick to a man who buys flowers from that lady at the mall?’ Those who are complaining about the withered flowers they received. It could be that the relationship is beyond repair. Accept and move on. Then we have the Dubai crew, the Maldives crew. Can Ugandans find new things to do? Can we go beyond the sand dunes?

Clueless romantics

Pirra Ssematimba is credited for publicising Valentine’s Day in Uganda, but he should be arrested. He should be arrested because he introduced a half-baked concept. He introduced a concept that he never broke down for the average Uganda. Most Ugandans never understood this concept. If they did, why did many people deliver wreaths to each other? Do people even know that every colour and scent represents something? And how will people who reside in Najjera understand this idea of flowers? When all that is around them are rolex stalls, roadside chicken, modern bufundas, and concreted parking yards? Isn’t this asking too much of these chaps?

On that note, Valentine’s Day left us more clueless. Couples were confused about what to do. Some went for dinner and still ordered chips and chicken? You order fries at a fine dining restaurant? At least order lasagna. Take a gamble, let your stomach struggle later but do not be a clueless, hopeless romantic. We looked for love on this one day, and it was nowhere to be found once again.

If someone finds love in this country, please reach out! It is scarcer than money and ethics! In the Soviet Union, when they ran out of something, they would create a Ministry for it. Uganda has a minister of Ethics. We now need a minister of Love! Yours truly nominates himself to this position!

 Twitter: ortegatalks

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