Romantic gifting of flowers has no roots in the cultures of the first nations of Uganda; it is certainly not culture-normal among the Iteso of Uganda, the fifth largest first nation of Uganda, that I know for sure, they are my people.
We do not have empirical evidence of this, but romantic expression of love in Teso and in the wider Uganda, I am inclined to believe, is often done through giving of practical gifts which have use for the family and or that the family can share.
And so, when on 2nd February 2019, Sandra Auma posted on face book the advert “Goat a Gift?” and captioned it: “You can keep your flowers; this is the kind of valentines I understand,” I was tickled and I could relate.
The breading goat that Auma wants her valentine to gift her, costs UGX 220,000, the equivalent of two bouquets of fresh natural flowers.
Time to reclaim all the other values for which St. Valentine was celebrated for. According to folklore, St. Valentine was persecuted and executed for his beliefs – his strong and principled beliefs in Christianity; which is how he is a saint. The story goes that he showed love to the daughter of his jailer and he performed a miracle that healed her blindness; giving her a gift of sight.
If given the choice from the gift of sight, the gift of a goat, and the gift of flowers, within the Uganda of today, where poverty bites the majority of our citizens and families have insufficient food to eat, for me it is clear.
Granted, the majority of us are already gifted with sight, but among us there are those who are in bondage and are with disability. Among us there are those less advantaged and that are struggling to provide for themselves and their households their basic and genuine needs.
On this Valentine’s Day gift in the Uganda-first-nations-culture-normal way. Make your loved ones happy through practical gifts that not only have commercial value but that also have social and cultural values; and most importantly those gifts that will keep on giving. This includes giving to causes and or initiatives that are intended to benefit those less advantaged.
A great cause to give is in support of disadvantaged student interns in Uganda. For the equivalent of one bouquet of flowers, UGX 40,000, you will provide stationary and mentoring material for a disadvantaged student intern for four months.