Saba-Saba and the fourth of July - celebrating Independence.

Author:Clark, Andrew A.
 
FREE EXCERPT

The following story is about celebration of political independence. In Tanzania, the holiday called Saba-Saba (seven-seven in Swahili, meaning in this case the seventh of July 1954) celebrates the founding of the Tanganyika African National Union-TANU-which eventually was instrumental in gaining political independence. At the time of this event Saba-Saba was the primary political holiday in Tanzania, eclipsing even the day of actual independence. It was a day of serious political celebration.

So here's the story

In 19S21 was working in Singida, Tanzania directing a development project.

In a conversation about politics with a Tanzanian. he talked about Saba-Saba and the great importance it had for Tanzanians. He also asked what we as Americans did to celebrate our political holidays, especially our Independence Day9 That began a tram of thought for me - what indeed do we do? Eat hot dogs, niaybe? Drink beer. Watch fireworks. Perhaps have a party to do all three, and play some softball too9 Very little, generally, to really celebrate our political freedom which for us is so far back in our history that we feel little immediacy as opposed to Tanzanians who. because the inception of TANU and independence is within their lifetimes, feel a great deal of immediacy.

At that point I was the senior American of the area so I decided that we. the American community of the Singida area, would host a Right And Proper Celebration of our Independence Day and to that end we set about planning the event.

The American population of the area was Barbara my wife, our five kids, me. six Peace Corps Volunteers who worked on the project I was directing, several Lutheran missionaries, and perhaps a few others whom I have forgotten.

We wrote to the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam outlining our plan, and they did us proud. They sent an American flag and shortly before the event actually shipped to us some dryice frozen hotdogs - actual tnie American tribal-food hotdogs! What a smash!!

The strategy was to invite a lot of Tanzanians and all the foreigners working in the area, and as it turned out at the event there were a total of 18 different nationalities represented. We mtended to demonstrate our true nationalism with a tribal parade, a tribal picnic with tribal foods, tribal games of "Wheelbarrow'" and "Three Legged Race" and others of that sort, and then a tribal oratory.

We began with the parade. Having no electricity, I had rigged a car stereo system with its...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP