The atmosphere in the country’s cities and towns was relaxed yesterday, like any other day.
However, something was unusual. Red and white colours were dominant in most places. An instant reminder that it was February 14, Valentine’s Day. A day which love is celebrated across the world.
On the day, couples and loved ones revive their bonds of affection. The sight of couples walking hand-in-hand was almost the order of the day. For some who were not in pairs, they could be spotted either rushing into floral shops to buy flower or to vendors who were standing at every possible corner within the towns with the intention of making a killing out of the love season.
At Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre, we came across Joyce Nyalapa, 26, from Machinjiri who was carrying a cake and a flower bouquet.
She said the package was part of a surprise she had planned for her fiancée.
“He is at work now and I am heading to his place. I want to go cook for him and place his gifts there. He will find them when he gets back home. I thought of doing something which will spice up to this day,” said Nyalapa.
The wind of romance did not spare University Malawi’s Chancellor College lecturer Dr Maxwell Chilembwe whom we bumped into when he was busy shopping at Shoprite. From the trolley he was pushing, two bottles of wine and some flowers were visible.
He said the day was an opportunity for him to show his ultimate love to two special women in his life, his wife Christina and daughter Watipatsa.
“We have a special dinner planned for this evening. We will sit down and share stories about our journey as a family. I will have to remind them how much I love them,” said Chilembwe.
The case was almost the same in Lilongwe where supermarkets made huge sales as lovers bought items such as cakes, chocolates, wines, flowers, teddy bears and champagnes.
Gateway Mall Shoprite deputy shop manager Andrew Banda said sales picked up yesterday and they deliberately erected stalls packed with items that are on demand on Valentine’s Day.
However, while retail shops were having good business, the case was not the same for trendy eateries in Lilongwe. Most of them were deserted around lunch hour. This was unlike the previous years Valentine’s Day when eateries would be filled with lovers sharing meals.
While the mood was low in Zomba City as few people could be seen putting on the valentine colours of red and white, for Henry Jika and his fiancée Maureen Bwanali of Chinamwali Township, they said the day is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of their love and plan their marriage.
The two said gift sharing adds value to the day, but where a lover fails to provide them, it should not haunt the relationship.
Sharing the sentiments is Joshua Chingota and Jane Mkupu who are based in Matawale Township. To the two lovebirds, Valentine’s Day is every day, but this year’s commemoration is special as it is their last valentine to be dating. The two are getting married in September this year.
For 57-year-old Chiletso Mithi, the day should be broadened to family and friends instead of just limiting it on couples.
“Despite that love should be practised every day, this day should be extended to everyone to showcase the love we have for others,” she said.
In Mangochi, love was in the air as, residents took advantage of the district’s natural endowment of the beauty of Lake Malawi and Shire River to make the celebration enviable to passers-by.
One of the residents, Ephraim Nkhoma, 25, from Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda in the district, said the day is important in his life because he meets friends including his girlfriend Annastazia Kalunga and share happy moments.
“The celebration ranges from drinking, going out for special meals and of course visiting the lake such as Nkopola, Sun and Sand to swim as you know that we have a lake nearby,” he said.
He said since he realised the meaning of Valentine’s Day a decade ago, he never misses the occasion.—Additional reporting by HOLYCE KHOLOWA AND AYAMBA KANDODO, Correspondents