February is quite a busy month, there’s the world-renowned day of love that everybody celebrates on the 14th. This day I believe is great in principle but lacks some backbone. I personally have no problem with setting aside a day to tell and show each other how much we love and appreciate the people we have in our lives. Another very important month long celebration that is not quite as known (especially here in Africa ironically) is the commemoration of Black History Month. So, whether you celebrate V-Day or not, whether you knew it was Black History month or not, here’s my take on two of this month’s most noteworthy events…
The day of love
I have seen and done most of it. From waiting for a sweet love note and small box of heart-shaped sweets to writing long notes in cold London common rooms for a boyfriend I hadn’t heard from in almost a year, to the customary dinners, flowers and lovemaking with the ex-husbands. Of all of these Valentine’s Day memories the few that have meaning are: an anonymous card I got while in London that said “I have seen you around dancing when you think nobody’s watching.” I have kept it with me ever since. The others are all the cards my kids have made for me at school.
These are important to me not because they were custom made in Italy and shipped in at the last minute (at extra cost, as husband number 1 always emphasised) but because beyond the crooked faced representation, the peeling Pritt-stuck cardboard and the dog-eared corners caused by schoolbag storage, there lies heartwarming attention to detail (the kids always get the shade of brown of my eyes just right) that makes my favourite valentines of all time the ones that come from the kids, the senders who, in that moment, captured me as they saw me – the true me, as I was.
Black History month
In the middle of last month when the children and I were preparing this month’s event calendar – there’s only one birthday – I mentioned it would also be Black History Month and I wasn’t surprised to find out that most of the children didn’t know that there’s even such a thing. As a new family tradition we will be having authentic black dinners from American soul food to distinctly South African dishes as well as weekly reports on a new culture, icon, event or anything else that catches their attention.
Today is meat-free Monday and we’re having Isigwaqane (a Zulu carb made of mealie meal and beans) and some Limpopo spinach with nuts.
Happy Black History month to you and your family!
Did you know?
When a death occurs in a black South African family it’s traditional for the matriarch/mother of the deceased and wife to sit on a mattress during the period of mourning?