Saba is the Swahili word for “seven.” Saba Saba, July 7, the 7th day of the 7th month is a national holiday in Tanzania. Today I turned 77. My Saba Saba. Celebrated with chicken marabella and carrot cake at Gale’s. She also let me win at Mexican Train dominoes. What a party!
For years, decades in fact, I thought that Saba Saba marked Tanganyika’s independence as a nation state. When I looked it up for this post, I learned that July 7, 1954 was the occasion for the founding of TANU, the Tanganyika African National Union, the political party that lead Tanganyika to independence. When I lived in Kenya in the 1960s, next-door Tanganyika had already joined with the island of Zanzibar to become Tanzania. As I watched how Julius Nyerere led Tanzania in those early days of independence, I started a life-long admiration for him as a role model. The people referred to him as Mwalimu (teacher) and he truly became mine.
A friend who is interested in astrology recently asked me for the time of day when I was born. My birth certificate says 5:01 pm. My friend commented that whoever filled out that certificate was quite precise. 5:01, not rounded off to the hour. The certificate says that my mother was the source of the data contained in it. “Precise.” That would describe my mother. That’s her above, holding me, looking curiously at the unknown ahead.