Although the epiphany for the day is its themed fashion colours red and black, that is also gradually changing.
JUST ANOTHER DAY
By Denis Nsubuga
Love - We have a reason to talk about love. Valentine's Day, the unofficial romantic day of the year, is here.
Valentine's Day has come of age, especially in a way it is marked in Uganda. Coupled with love commitments and exchange of gifts, couples who cherish the day have varied ticks for it.
But one shared trait is, as Rubanda-Mayonza Rutabatiina, a stylist, states, "Partners want something that brings them together and builds the bond between them."
Although the epiphany for the day is its themed fashion colours- red and black, that is also gradually changing.
For Rutabatiina, who runs a fashion store called Rubanda-Mayonza Fashions, the trend for this day is couples going for fashion that somewhat shows that the love partners are complementary of each other.
Thus, the fashionistas are selling more of what they call ‘Couple Outfits' during this period. For example, a man would wear a T-shirt bearing bold written pronouncements, "I am her King" and a lady would wear ‘I am his Queen'.
The trend is reflected on online shopping sites like Jumia, where sale displays of various clothing and other accessories are tailored with ‘Valentine Offers', implying the target is lovers in this romantic period, days before and after the D-day.
"Indeed, people are buying, and the response is very positive. People are serious on the vibe, reflected in the number of orders that we get and feedback through social media pages," Rutabatiina says.
Valentine's Day, for many, is incomplete without "going out." In Kampala, it is another reason for hanging out.
And, according to Innocent Nahabwe, an event's organizer and director of Club Amnesia, it is one of the days many people flock hang-outs and organised music and entertainment events.
Nahabwe observes that the young people, who don't have a lot of disposable income, tend to go to publicly organised events. It is one day in February where artistes tend to be very busy, mostly true for singers with love ballads.
Singers like Rema Namakula, David Lutalo, Kenneth Mugabi, Chris Evans and all those crooning out love usually work up the crowds at various events.
Singer Kenneth Mugabi, who will perform at two events that night, says for Valentine's Day acts, he looks out to intensify the bond between lovers in his audience.
"Besides entertaining them, I want to attack their souls and ignite their romance," he says, reminiscing on the times when love songs from Boys2Men, West Life, Celine Dione and R. Kelly were a cog in the wheel that drove romance. "That was music that touched our souls. We felt love."
For David Lutalo, Valentine is about renewing the love between partners, be it married ones or a relationship of boyfriend and girlfriend. The Onsanula and Nakusiima hitmaker, therefore, looks out to use lyrics in his songs to renew the love of the couples he performs for.
"This is the day couples usually go out together and ignite a fire in their love life," says Lutalo, who first encountered Valentine's Day in 2010.
"We didn't know about it in the village. When I came to town in 2008, and after staying here for two years with some of my songs playing on the radio, I was booked for a Valentine's Day show. That's when I was told about this day," Lutalo recalls.
As the young couples go for clubs and music events, the older and richer opt for the cozy nights like candle night dinners. The number going for the latter is also increasing.
"The big hotels tend to have expensive dinners that day. The same dinner that would go for less that sh100,000 can be hiked to over sh400,000 on such a day," Nahabwe observes.
And the flowers! It is still a big thing among young couples. But natural flowers have a place here. However, Mugabi thinks, "This era's love is somewhat so ‘material.' Instead of love, people are always looking out to how their partner will ‘spoil' them with material gifts."
In Nahabwe's view, although it is still growing compared to the major holidays like Christmas and Easter, there is a big difference between how Valentine Day was celebrated in Uganda in the past and today.
"Although the number of people putting on red and black might not be growing, there are more people celebrating it. People take it seriously. Look at how the (Beauty and Leisure) business booms during Valentine," he observes.
He adds, "It is no longer a new trend (like it was in the 1990s and early 2000s). Most people didn't know what it was really about."
Like Nahabwe, Rutabatiina observes that because Ugandans have come to appreciate social media and this trend, like many other trends, has been brought forth and people talk about it. So it hard to ignore it.
"With social media, it has brought attention to people who previously had no access to it. Previously, it was reserved for people who read newspapers and watched TV that felt the vibe of it," Nahabwe says.
With vendors and hawkers upbeat with Valentine's Day merchandise in downtown Kampala, the ever-growing trend rarely can go missed by anyone working there or passing by.
For Nicholas Baloda, a student at Makerere University Business School, it will be "another day." Nothing to fuss about.
But not Abraham Lwanga, a young businessman in downtown Kampala. For him, this is another moment to show his affection to his lover. The one he now calls ‘Bae' (slung for a lover and short form of ‘Before Anyone Else').
And indeed, before anyone else, top on his agenda on February 14 (this Thursday) is the time with her who his heart holds dear.
"I already have my program for that day. I am going to spoil her. In fact, we are going to spoil ourselves," Lwanga speaks with a passionate smile.
Like for Baloda and Lwanga, Valentine's Day—celebrated on February 14 every year- has divergent perceptions. To some people, there is nothing to fuss about while to others, it has everything is to be excited about, for what is life without love?
About the day
Also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, it is celebrated annually on February 14. It has its origins from a Western Christian feast day honoring Saint Valentine.
Saint Valentine, officially Saint Valentine of Rome, was a widely recognized 3rd-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages is associated with a tradition of courtly love.
Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
VALENTINE'S IN ENTEBBE
By Titus Kakembo
Entebbe is the ideal place for romantics to see the sun go down the horizon in each other's arms. The area's proximity to Lake Victoria offers beaches, forests with nature walk opportunities and seeing the feathered love birds court in flight.
"There is Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) which serve deep fried fish and chips," says Scovia Musiimenta. "There is an array of attractions that will leave many a jaw-dropping in shock.
Counting them off her fingers, Musiimenta had the bird sanctuary for starters.
"There you will learn a lot about the love lives of birds like the noisy weaver bird," said Musiimenta. "For many lovers it will be news to find out that even weaver birds have qualities they fall for in a suitor."
Adding that, for a female to accept mating with a male he is required to weave a nest first. He then approaches her with sing-song tweets like a male dropping on a bended knee to ask a girl for her hand in marriage.
"She goes into the nest to inspect it before succumbing to his proposal," asserts Musiimenta. "What follows is an inspection to see if there is a nook where she can lay eggs that can not be reached by predators like snakes."
To cut the long story short, what is put into consideration are the architecture, musical tweets, and the decorous plumage.
Talking about the Crowned Crane Musimenta had another romantic tale that left many eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Did you know that the bird, the Carne on our national emblem, dates only one partner in life?" asked Musimenta. "If the partner dies, the widow/er remains single, until death joins them in the next world."
Elsewhere in Entebbe are numerous places to see the sun touch the horizon and whisper sweet nothings in a partner's ear. Botanical Garden comes on the heels of Spena Beach, Banga Beach, and Waterfront.
Either serves deep fried fish, chips and all types of beers and soft drinks. A camera or Smartphone would be ideal to capture the moment there and share them on social media.
DINE OUT THIS VALENTINE'S
By Titus Kakembo
For most people, Kampala City is just another workplace. For tourists, a Safari base where one can buy cheap souvenirs. Yet for lovers, it is a city with an array of dining opportunities. Titus Kakembo sampled out some of the city's joints with mouthwatering delights
Thai specialties are served at Tamarai in Kololo just below the airstrip. Besides meat roast, beer, spirits, and teas the place has a typical African feeling. This is emphasized by the grass thatched dining hall. The roast meat aroma is enough to hold you captive, while the wide tea selected will keep you hooked.
Ethiopian food is served in different restaurants in Kabalagala and Bunga Soya. Njera goes down the throat smoothly with a cup of coffee ground and brewed as one sees. The delicious Njera has been mistaken for hand towels by first-timers.
Indian food is popular for the hot chili and Chicken Tikka is particularly loved by diners. It is served with nan (chapati like bread,). The restaurants that serve Indian food are found both in the heart of the city and residential areas. These include; Haandi, Kyber Pas, Khana Khazana, Nawab, Great Indian Dhaba, Nyanja place at Speke Resort Munyonyo and Masala Chat on Dewinton Road among other places.
Continental dishes are everywhere in Greater Kampala City. Java and Java House. The strawberry chicken salad with poppy seed dressing will leave any tongue rioting. Neither did I hate the coffee. Kabira Country Club contends for diners with Chicken Kathi Roll or calls it Chicken Tandoori. This goes down with Spring Rolls with either meat or vegetables.
Nyama Choma the open oven meat roast is common at most pubs around the city. The menu includes beef, goat ribs, stuffed offals, and sausages. Lovers are known to frequent these places where they meet friends, suitors, and business associates. They have TV screens to enable patrons to keep abreast with news and the Premier League. The prices are more pocket-friendly in pubs. They serve Kikalaya (deep fried) and open oven roast.
Pork popularity at a fast pace on a national basis. A kilogram has a price tag of sh10, 000. The salads cost sh5, 000. And beers cost between sh3000-sh4000. It all depends on where one dines. Kalinya (feet) and side view mirrors (ears) require booking early to avoid disappointment. There are places in Nina, Kyadondo Rugby pitch serve pork all day. The beers come chilled and sweating. The place is popular with youngsters and new recruits in the job mart.
Local food like Luwombo (steamed chicken) is readily available in restaurants like Nommo Gallery, Nalongo's Place in Katwe and some established high-end hotels prepare them when ordered in advance. In the race to whet appetites is emololokony (cow hoof,) Rolex and eshabwe.