Valentine’s Day in Kumasi: Youth, sex and secrets

Seminar date: 
18 February 2010
Speaker(s): Astrid Bochow (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Discussant: Samuel Ntewusu

Over the last ten years a new festival has been celebrated by Ghanaian youth: Valentine's Day. Introduced in Catholic secondary schools in the 1950s and thus a symbol of an elite culture, its celebration has become popular among students at secondary schools and universities who give gifts to friends and engage in noisy festivities that involve running through the streets dressed in red. Pentecostal churches have criticized these youthful outbursts because of their perceived 'sinful' nature.

Valentine's Day celebrations appear to embody a new connection between sex, consumption and youth culture. This seminar will discuss these celebrations to showcase the changing political economy of sexual and intergenerational relations against the backdrop of Ghana's new consumerism and recent economic growth. Insight will be given into the new public sphere that is dominated by Pentecostal voices as well as into shifting public opinion on sexuality and the public representation of youth cultures.

The seminar is based on twelve months of fieldwork in Kumasi in 2005 in the framework of Astrid Bochow's PhD research on 'Love, Sexuality and Intimacy before Marriage in Kumasi'.

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