July is freedom month for many states in the world

By - Jul 19th 2023

The month of July stands out as a historic month in many ways. It is a symbolic month in many countries. In Kiswahili, the word ‘saba’ means July as the seventh month of the year.

Did you know that in Kenya the month of July is commonly known as ‘Saba Saba’ a name adopted from Tanzania? In the neighbouring state, they mark it to celebrate the founding of the Tanzania African National Union (TANU) in 1954.

Still in Tanzania, it is used to refer to the annual Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, which from 1963 is held on that date. The fair is meant to promote the export of Tanzanian-made goods, hence international trade with the rest of the world. It is normally a huge event supported by the government.

End of the one-party state

Kenyans who were around on the seventh of July 1990 recall the day Kenyans took to the streets to demand the end of the one-party state and to have free and fair elections. It was symbolic because many people died while others were detained after the police cracked down heavily on protestors. The perceived leaders of the protests Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia were arrested and detained. The other leader Raila Odinga fled to Norway and became a refugee in the Scandinavian country.

Did you know, in later years, civil societies have taken advantage of the symbolism to mark the day to demonstrate against various grievances including police brutality, violation of human rights, and other forms of discriminative actions? Did you know, in Tanzania, unlike Kenya, Saba Saba Day is a national holiday that is marked on their calendar? People are officially allowed to stay away from work to celebrate the day.

In the USA the month is significant because on the 4th of July Americans celebrate their Independence Day. Liberia, which was founded by freed American slaves also celebrates its Independence Day on the 26th of July. They mark the day in 1847 when their country was declared independent. That is when they also adopted a flag that is modeled along the American flag.

Did you know, in Kenya, the month also has sad memories because the great politician Thomas Joseph Mboya was assassinated on the 5th of July 1969? Various public symbols including a busy street in Nairobi are named after him.

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