African Diaspora: Nigerian Americans Adopt Valentine’s Day Spending

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Do a Google search for African countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day — observed Feb. 14 —  and not much comes up, South Africa being an exception.

Africans living outside the continent’s major cities may not have embraced the love fest — arguably one of the West’s biggest and best excuses ever for spending money on flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

But some Africans living in the diaspora who send money home to loved ones say they plan to send money home to mark Valentine’s Day, according to an email survey by Wall Street-based remittance firm Transfast.

Transfast handles money transfers in 120 countries around the world.

In the last week of January, the company conducted an email poll of Africans living in the U.S. and Canada, said Jay Vix, global director of marketing for Transfast, in an email to AFKInsider.

African countries that Transfast serves include Benin, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kenya,  Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Of the 804 respondents, Nigerians who use Transfast are the most romantic, according to their responses on the Valentine’s Day survey.

Here’s how Nigerians voted:

  • 80 percent of Nigerian respondents say they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
  • 75 percent described the holiday as “sweet – I like the sentiment behind it.”
  • 13 percent said it’s “silly, but I put up with it. ”
  • 9 percent described it as “a ridiculous money-making scheme.”
  • 3 percent of Nigerians said Valentine’s Day is “stressful: I wish it would go away!”

Respondents who are Transfast customers based in the U.S. or Canada, said:

  • Their loved one is in the U.S. (54 percent)
  • 36 percent say their loved one is in Nigeria.
  • 53 percent said they plan to send money home for Valentine’s Day in amounts ranging from $50 to $2,000.

Nigerian respondents talked about how they plan to express their love on Valentine’s Day.

  • 46 percent plan to communicate via a phone call
  • 11 percent plan to use Skype
  • 11 percent plan to use WhatsApp
  • 8 percent plan to use Facebook
  • 5 percent plan to use Facetime

Do Nigerian respondents agree that they are romantic by nature?

  • 67 percent said yes, Nigerians are romantic.
  • 46 percent said they believe in love at first sight.
  • 12 percent said they’ve experienced love at first sight.

Nigerian respondents talked about their marital status

  • 53 percent said they are married.
  • 14 percent said they are dating
  • 12 percent said they are engaged
  • 21 percent said they are single.
  • 53 percent said they do not share their relationship status on social media.

South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and other tokens of love, HuffingtonPost reported. It’s customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on Feb. 14. Some women pin the names of their love interest on their shirt sleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

St. Valentine was a popular martyr imprisoned in Rome when Christians were being persecuted under the Roman Empire. His sin — performing weddings for soldiers who had been forbidden to marry. The day was first associated with romantic love in Geoffrey Chaucer’s circle in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished, according to Wikipedia. In 18th-century England, the date evolved into an occasion for people to expressed love by presenting flowers, sweets, and greeting cards known as Valentines.