Heart of Arts

Naija Valentine: Singles Oppression Day

Toyin Falola

The motto of the year 2024, no gree for anybody, seems not to apply to singles wanting to be doubles. During the Crossover Service into the new year in their various places of worship, they had asked God, “Father Lord, let this year be my year of marital settlement.” Some even took steps of faith and prophetic actions like buying wedding gowns and dressing and dancing as they would on their wedding day: I don buy gown, na husband remain.” A woman once proposed to me to stage a marriage with her so that she would eventually get married for real.

“Real with me?” I wondered aloud, immediately asking myself how I would announce to my darling wife that I had inadvertently stumbled into a faux-marriage arrangement with another woman.

“No,” she said. “God will use you to bring the real person to me. Remember what the Bible said about calling those things that are not as though they were?”


January was a tough month for singles as the harsh reality of their singleness dawned on them afresh with the “they-never-saw-it-coming” wedding of the famous actor Kunle Remi, the proposal and engagement of gospel singer Moses Bliss, and the engagement of the fashion designer Veekee James, which culminated into an “e-choke” wedding ceremony a few days ago, among others.

February is popularly tagged the month of love. Will the single pringles survive this month as the pressure is getting wesser? For this set of people, pressure ti wa as everyone is thinking, planning, and suggesting how to make Valentine’s Day memorable. But amidst all this chaos, one can’t help but wonder: What is the true essence of Valentine? Is the pressure and hype that come with the day even necessary at all? Why has the focus of this celebration shifted over time?

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day serves as a gentle reminder to express love and appreciation to people, especially those dear to our hearts. Even if you do not love your neighbour, you will pretend as you do on Valentine’s Day because of the spirit of love in the air. It is a day that encourages unity and happiness. However, a day celebrated quietly and modestly in the past has turned into a lavish display of money and material things in the hands of Gen Zs.

Over the years, the pressure and competition to outdo one another in extravagant gestures have overshadowed the genuine show of love and appreciation associated with the day, as though careless spending is proof of true love. The original purpose of celebrating Valentine’s has faded as what many celebrate nowadays can be termed “Singles Oppression Day”, where lovebirds flaunt each other, dine at overpriced restaurants, and buy themselves ridiculously expensive gifts.

Conversely, those not in a relationship or who have yet to find their significant other celebrate Singles Awareness or Remembrance Day. You will find them in the comment section of a Facebook or Instagram post, dropping lines like: “God when?” “Na today this single life pain me pass.” “God, if I am a stone, just tell me.” Some even made dance videos just like Moses Bliss’ fiancée, hoping that their own Moses Bliss would slide into their DM and end their singleness. But look, Omoge, if you continue with your dance like Atilogwu dancers, you will not even get Pure Bliss wafers, not to mention Moses Bliss.

In the modern day’s idea of Valentine’s Day, expressing love through gifts and grand acts of kindness has become the norm, with the day coming with high expectations of receiving gifts. Many people do not even expect Christmas and New Year gifts as much as they expect Valentine’s gifts. The day has been so commercialized that online vendors work tirelessly to promote and sell different Valentine’s packages ranging from flowers, jewellery, chocolates, food trays, skincare products, perfumes, wigs, land, cars and all sorts of romantic gestures.

Even 14-year-old Bayo in SS2 has been saving his lunch money and transport fare to buy flowers and a teddy bear for his crush in JSS 3—after all, if you do not order a Valentine’s package for your babe, you don fall her hand be that. That “understanding babe” may not understand that you are too broke to buy her a Valentine’s Day package. Even if you try to explain that you are among the few people who do not celebrate the day, she is not likely to believe you.

I recently saw a post about a Valentine’s Day package that consisted of a giant teddy bear, flowers, some chocolates, and a lot of ijekuje—all totalling N500,000. In this Tinubu economy? Is it not insane to buy a Valentine’s package worth N500,000 for the LOYL when your landlord is already threatening to throw you out of the house? Oh! You do not want her to finally leave you for that agbaya sugar daddy who is obviously richer than you? More so, that is what your babe said she wants for Valentine, and she has been singing it into your ears since January: “Babe, Valentine is coming o, this is your chance to prove your love for me.”

Mr. Babe, se bi o ti mo, elewa Sapon. Be wise and live within your means. St. Valentine did not give his lover an empire or a Mercedes, nor did he give her a bouquet of dollars. So, rest, Oga. Don’t spend half of the money that could kickstart your journey to becoming a landlord—even if it is to buy a half-of-a-half plot of land in the bush of Ogun State or the outskirts of Ikorodu—on purchasing a Valentine’s gift, especially as even your boo fit get another boo.

With the recent trend on the celebration of this day and the hype that comes with it, it is important to reemphasize the significance of this celebration. Valentine’s Day is part of Oyinbo man’s culture that has imposed itself on us and diverted our attention from celebrating traditional festivals like Yemoja Day or Egungun Day. Sadly, those who should protect our cultural heritage care less.

For real, is Valentine’s Day really worth the hype? Why have the youths of today lost the main focus of this celebration? Perhaps it is time for someone to take them back in time to remind them of the purpose of this celebration. As the saying goes, “When the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable.” Unfortunately, we remember names and events but not the lessons.

Delving a bit into the history of Valentine’s Day, the celebration is based on Saint Valentine, a martyr. Legend has it that a Roman Emperor executed Saint Valentine named Claudius II, for converting “pagans” to Christianity and refusing to convert to paganism to save his life. St. Valentine also joined couples, especially soldiers, in marriage, which was illegal then. During his sentence, he performed various healings and miracles and converted many to Christianity. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote a farewell letter to his lover, signing it with a heart-shaped symbol pierced by an arrow over it and the words, “From Valentine.” Since then, Valentine’s Day has become a love-themed celebration in remembrance of St. Valentine’s sacrificial love. His story set the groundwork for establishing the day as a holiday for romantic love, and couples celebrate their romantic connection.

Today, the whole idea of Valentine’s celebration has shifted from celebrating the kind of love and sacrifice exemplified by St. Valentine. Instead, it has become an occasion to celebrate romantic love with material exchanges as its central focus, neglecting the primary purpose and message the celebration preaches. Valentine’s Day now comes with unnecessary hype and pressure, causing youths to engage in immoral sexual relations motivated by lust and infatuation rather than genuine love and commitment. Many lovebirds claim to show their love for their partners through lavish spending and having sex. Even junior secondary school students are already sexually active, engaging in underage sex. The consequences are not only felt by these young people but also by society and the nation in general, with an increase in cases of immoral behaviours, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, and other forms of societal misconduct, all of which boil down to the premature exposure of young people to sex.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, a reminder that love knows no bounds and extends beyond romantic relationships. There are no restrictions on who to show love to, whether a family member, a significant other, a friend, a colleague or everyone valuable to our existence. We all should be givers and receivers of love. We all are debtors of love and owe ourselves a debt of love.

I know Davido has told you, “Love is sweet o; when money enters, love is sweeter,” and you agree with him. But you would be wrong to equate someone who sincerely loves and cares about you and brings value to your life with the material gifts they present on just one out of the 365 or 366 days in a year. Although giving is an integral part of a relationship, and a person who genuinely loves you will do things that make you happy, it still does not form the entirety of love. Love transcends gift-giving. Giving is just one of the five love languages, including physical touch, spending quality time together, acts of service, and words of affirmation.

There are different stories about Valentine’s Day having a demonic root and connection to Juno Februata, a Roman goddess of sexual passion, which is why some people do not celebrate it. Some clergies even preach against it, believing that it is a pagan festival that has crept into Christianity and Islam. Nevertheless, the debate is not about whether Valentine is worth celebrating, but that true love can be expressed in simpler, more meaningful, and less extravagant ways rather than a commercialized materialistic celebration.

Love is not just a feeling; it is not butterflies in one’s belly. It is not common sense that leaves your head when you see yellow skin and large bakassi—fake or not. It is not goosebumps all over your skin. It is not love if you receive the most expensive Valentine’s gift today and the beating of your life tomorrow. Love is sacrificial. It is a responsibility. Love is intentional. Whether you are interested in celebrating Valentine’s Day or not, love is a commandment we all must obey. The honest Valentine’s celebration is to encourage us to love and support one another daily. Love is thinking twice before leaving hurtful, depressing, and suicide-inducing comments on people’s social media posts. Love is letting people live their lives. Love is not projecting evil or negativity on people just living their lives or doing their jobs.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs – 1 Corinthians 13:4.

My dearest single pringle, let me tell you, there is no pressure anywhere except the stress you decide to put on yourself. Be positive and keep your heart open and your head high. I hope you will find that special someone who will gree for you this year, who sees your worth and appreciates the incredible values you bring to their table.

Dear single-to-stupor,

Roses are red

Violets are blue

If you are no one’s Valentine

You are not a fool.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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