Saba Saba literally translated from Swahili means “Seven Seven” or July 7. Saba Saba is a national holiday in Tanzania and is also known as “Worker’s Day”, “Industry’s Day”, or “Peasant’s Day”.
On July 7, 1954 the Tanzanian political party, TANU, the Tanganyika African National Union was founded by Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first president of Tanzania from 1962 to 1985. TANU was the main political party through 1977 when it merged with ASP (Afro-Shirazi Party) in Zanzibar to form the current Revolutionary State Party or Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Saba Saba is also the day of the International Trade Fair at the Mwalimu JK Nyerere Fair Grounds near Dar-es-Salaam where farmers show the products and produce to international business. Originally, this fair was held to promote Tanzanian exports and Tanzania would celebrate their agricultural accomplishments for the previous year. The first fair was held in 1963.
Now the fair hosts over 1800 exhibitors from 18 countries. The fair runs for 7 days from roughly June 28th through July 8th. The International Trade Fair has established itself as a shop window for Tanzanian products as well as other Eastern, Central, and Southern African countries.
Saba Saba isn’t without some controversy. In 1992, when Tanzania held its first multi-party elections, the opposition parties argues that Saba Saba unfairly favored the ruling party. In 1993, Saba Saba was discarded and Nane Nane (Eight Eight, or August 8th) was established was the new Farmer’s Day. However, in 1994 there was some confusion as to which holiday was to be celebrated – the new Nane Nane or the old Saba Saba. People pointed to old calendars that had Saba Saba (July 7) listed as a holiday and took the day off from work, others took Nane Nane (August 8) off. Some people refused to work on either day. In 1995, a compromise was reached and a single celebration would be held in Dar-es-Salaam for Saba Saba and the rest of the country would celebrate Nane Nane.