A Kenyan Valentine
This year we are doing something a little different... We are following Reuben, our Amani Garden Cafe Manager, as he considers what Valentines Day means for him and his wife Anna! Hear his Kenyan insight and share with others what love means to you this year.
How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in Kenya?
From a man’s perspective, you have to prepare without your spouse knowing what’s in stock, but everyone knows, the day is February 14.
There are restaurants here where there is an offer of a dinner for 2 or a table can be booked ahead of time for you and your partner. That makes it special for your lady. Women here appreciate that. This is done by modern people in Kenya who have seen it practiced in the West.
Our parents’ generation was different. They would buy a kilo of beef or they can buy chicken and make sure that the lady of the house has a better meal for the night. In Kenya, people eat a lot of sukuma wiki (spinach) and ugali (boiled corn meal), so on that specific day, the husband will buy meat and cook the meal for his wife, which is a special thing, culturally, for a man to make dinner. It’s taken as a sign of love.
What is your understanding of love?
“Love is a choice” is my slogan because I choose to love my wife daily. I choose to take her out on a date. I choose to cook dinner for her, or tell her I love her and remind her I will be there emotionally for her when she needs me. I support her when there is something heavy to lift. I will lift it, not because I have so much energy, but because I choose to show her that I am there for her. If someone tries to attack her I want to defend her, not because I am strong, but because I choose to do that.
What Valentine's message would you give to people who are searching for love?
It’s OK to be single because this is where God has called you to be. You don’t want to hurry and get married to anyone just because you want to be married. Rushing into the next stage will only lead to regret once they get there. So enjoy being single, enjoy pursuing your singleness, ensuring it’s pure.
How does love grow deeper?
Getting to know my wife is like a fun discovery. What’s the new thing she is doing? I want to know about the new book she is reading and just read it with her. This intimacy makes her feel treasured -- “my hubby really wants to spend time with me.” Just planting a tree together or watering the plants in the house together communicates so much to my wife. The small things that don’t seem to be very significant, to her they are treasured moments. Love comes from the smallest things you do.
What is the test of love?
We come from two different cultures. I am a Kenyan, total Kenyan. My wife is a total US of A American, and so that is already a big test of love. A bi-racial marriage, with all the cultural differences, is enough of a challenge.
Another big test of love is that you have to be willing to change what you believe is the right way to do something. If I believe my ways are better than anyone else’s, then I deny my spouse an opportunity to teach me. I have to let go of some of my pride.
It’s always good to go through these tests together because they make you stronger. It’s good to be able to look back and say we succeeded in going through the challenge together so that when the next challenge comes we can go through it with confidence.