Way before I knew what Valentine’s Day was, way before I knew what love was and even before I could appreciate the sentiment behind romantic love, I knew one thing. My name was somehow connected to this apparently very special day! I became very familiar with the sneers, teasing and amusement on adults’ faces when I told them that my name was Valentina.

Almost three decades ago, my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ndebele of Gweru were blessed with a bouncing baby girl and my Dad, who at that particular time was a staunch military man was in love with the idea of his newly born little girl breaking stereotypes and boundaries like the Russian pilot Valentina Tereshkova, the first female pilot to conquer space. My dad felt I could do this in my own sphere of influence, and I commend him for his choice of name. I am so proud, I tell this story to everyone who will listen; I have even said it in job interviews and as a conversation starter and most of all to show off. For pretty much most of my life, in fact all the 26 years of my life that I can actually remember, on each and every St Valentine’s Day I have received more attention than the ordinary person. I get a variety of questions about why I am not wearing red, how MY day is going and tons of happy birthday messages! I hate it! And before you ask why I would rather attach my name to the space pilot rather than the love saint, I will volunteer the information. Well, I feel attaching myself to Ms Tereshkova represents a big deal, my parents aspiration for me, my own dreams and  basically who I am. Attaching my name to St Valentine on the other hand makes me feel like beige paint, a grain of sand on a beach. There is no history, no rich antidotes and definitely nothing personal to it. Therefore I disassociate myself!

Today, thanks to @ThembiTerryZulu I get to rant and rave a bit about being called Valentina on Valentine’s Day! Here are a few answers to some questions that I have been asked over the years, I am not in any way related to the famous St Valentines of Terni, the saint of love. My parents have never given me any indication that there are familiar with this third century person. Valentina was not born on Valentine’s Day and neither was she conceived on this day. And just to really make sure I even used the Reverse Due Date Calculator to Calculate Conception Dates and I am glad to say that rather than being conceived in the month of February I was conceived a good month later on the 19th of March 1990.

Lol, Yes I did go there…

A little lesson in onomastics (the study of names- I never knew there was such a thing!) -Contrary to popular belief the name Valentina does not mean love. Valentina is actually a Latin name for girls, and is the feminine form for Valentinus having its origins in the Latin word “valens” to mean healthy strong.  While I love the idea of sharing my name with so many illustrious people in history and present day like Saint Valentine of Terni, fashion designers, world famous athletes, I would like to maintain a little bit of individuality, some distinction. On Valentine’s Day I just want to be an ordinary girlfriend, lover and not have to field comments about my birthday, dressing or conception.

This felt really good!

Contact Valentina on her Twitter: @TinaNdex or Facebook: Valentina Ndebele