In 2005, the late Jake and his advisors at the time saw the drifting away of our youth into an unprecedented level of promiscuity. I remember whiles in Achimota secondary school, Valentine Day had become fashionable and students at the time will spend so much money on Valentine Day all in the name of showing their so-called love. Indeed, was it love or lust?
In those days young girls and boys will move around in the evening wearing red cloths ready for an outing which may end up in sex. Jo Ellen Fair in her research article entitled African Studies Review gave a detailed report on the rise of Valentine’s Day in Ghana.
She state that Valentine Day was borrowed from abroad, altered to fit local circumstances, Valentine’s Day is part of a complex set of imported and indigenous lifestyle market that are used increasingly in urban Africa by individuals and social groups to construct identities as older and more traditional cultural norms and forms loosen their hold.
The self-conscious choice and arrangement in one’s life of these markers-some local, some imported, all under constant reconfiguration-increasingly, according to Chaney (1996, 2 is culture. As Chaney argues, lifestyle creation through choice does imply a new superficiality of culture or a looming monotony of global taste. Rather, the ability of individuals and groups to craft lifestyles through choice of symbols and consumption of products empowers them by uniting them with like-minded people in their own society and abroad, while distinguishing and separating them from persons near and far whose preferences, behaviors, and values mark alternative paths of personal and progress (2001:81-84; see also Bourdieu 1984:169-225).
The growth of the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Ghana is associated with the privatization of broadcast media, the reestablishment of vibrant urban commercial sector, rising consumerism, and a reexamination in Accra (and throughout urban Africa) of the contours of courtship, and marriage.
This report builds from the assumption that the inform and ready communication afforded by mass media, and the lifestyle choices opened up by a healthy commercial sector, have been necessary pre- conditions to the reassessments of courtship, love, and marriage that are the heart of Valentine’s Day in Ghana. Valentine’s Day is thus a window a process.
Pro Mass media generate interest in new cultural forms (section 1); mar develop in their accoutrements (section 2); and individuals and communities examine, shape, and reshape themselves and their identities- lifestyles-around choices of markers and meanings. Media depictions of Valentine’s Day and its various social and political meanings were drawn from newspapers in the National Archives, the contemporary press, and radio and television programming and advertisements aired in 2002.
Many in the West consider Valentine’s Day a thoroughly contemporary contrivance, a holiday manufactured by the greeting card industry. But the holiday has a deep history in Western culture: apparent pre-Christian antecedents in the Roman festival of Lupercalia; a pair of Saints Valentine putatively beheaded by Claudius II in the third century; churches and shrines dedicated to the martyrs’ memory throughout Europe; and a long association of the holiday with the desires of the human heart (Chase 1956; Myers 1972; Baird 1990; Santino 1994; Schmidt 1995).
Europeans brought Saint Valentine’s Day with them to North America, but in the United States the holiday was obscure until 1910, when Joyce C. Hall established Hallmark Cards, specializing in the sale of holiday greetings of all kinds, including valentines, that neatly packaged common expressions of love (Stern 1988; Schmidt 1995:94-102)
Nearly all Ghanaians who went to school in the, Accra, during the 1970s and 1980s remember making or buying and exchanging cards with friends. Several men recalled wanting make an impression on their chosen Valentine by paying “a small boy” or employing a courier service to deliver cards and gifts to their beloved. One man recounted how his girlfriend at the university would not speak for days because he sent a domestic brand of chocolate instead imported one.
At least among secondary and university students, Valentine Day appears to have enjoyed widening popularity from the 1980s onward the holiday did not catch the imagination of a larger public. From 2001, Ghanaian newspapers made no mention (no stories, no advertisements) of Valentine’s Day except for a very short feature that appear the weekend tabloid the Mirror (Feb. 10, 1990) explaining the history the holiday and giving tips on how to celebrate it.
Responding to increasing pressure from external funders (the World Bank, IMF, and private financiers), the government of President Jerry Rawlings acceded in 1995 to demands for deregulation and privatization of national broadcast media. Radio was the first broadcast medium to be deregulated, with the Voice of Legon (now named Radio Universe) as the first private, nongovernmental radio station in late February few months later in April, Joy FM began broadcasting as Ghana’s first commercial station.
Several stations followed, and by 1997 there were or so commercial stations operating in the Accra area. With so many new stations, the radio industry was confronted with problems of content and audience: what to broadcast, how to attract listeners, and how to deliver an economically viable audience to potential advertisers. Promotions seemed to be the answer.
“We got hold of broadcasting promotion books, and we ran with them,” said Komla Dumor. Joy FM’s morning personality. “Every station in town did the same (interview, Feb. 7, 2002). Dumor said Joy initiated Accra’s Valentine Day’s promotions in 1996 because the station “wanted to build a solid base listenership” (interview, Feb. 7 2002).
In view of the above, the establishment of Valentine’s Day in most especially the youth and with the increasing concern of promiscuity, The Chocolate Day (known as National Chocolate Day) was instituted to take away the mind of the youth away from Valentine’s Day. It is a celebration instituted by the Ghana Tourism Authority in 2005.
The celebration which is earmarked for the 14th February annually, is targeted at boosting the domestic consumption of Ghanaian chocolate and other cocoa based products, to promote domestic tourism and to give a healthy orientation to the celebration of Valentine’s Day. The initiative is also aimed at shifting the attention of the youth from engaging in sexual activities towards showcasing love to their loved ones through a gift of chocolate. The activity was instituted by the Ghana Tourism Authority in partnership with the Cocoa Processing Company of Ghana, the idea was instituted as part of the Ghana@50 celebrations by the Minister of Tourism at the time Jake Obetsebi Lamptey.
At the launch of the celebration, the Minister made reference to the low consumption of cocoa products in the country even though the country was the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and hoped that the institution of the day will encourage consumption among Ghanaians. The ministry also mentioned the proposed establishment of a cocoa museum following the initiation of the day.
Cocoa production has been the mainstay of Ghana’s economy since the 1870s. It dominates the agricultural sector and contributes about 30% of the country’s export earnings. Cocoa employs about 800,000 farmers directly. It also supports the livelihoods of others in the commerce, service and industrial sectors of the Ghanaian economy. This makes it an important generator of revenue.
Chocolate comes from cocoa. On Valentine’s Day, instead of engaging in unproductive activities, it’s prudent to visit tourist attractions where the learning of cocoa will be unveiled. Cocoa Research Institute is one attraction many people could visit on the day. Another attraction is the Cocoa Processing Company in Tema. The Tetteh Quarshie farm must also not be left out.
When these cocoa based attractions are promoted and visited, the end result will be a desire created in the youth to explore our chocolate and cocoa based tourist sites. School children must be made to travel to other regions sharing chocolate. When this is well promoted and sponsors attracted a great avenue to promote domestic tourism would have put into reality.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer/Trainer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations