SabaSaba: A Day of Reflection, Resistance, and Remembrance

SabaSaba: A Day of Reflection, Resistance, and Remembrance

July 7, 1990, marks a pivotal moment in Kenya’s history. Known as SabaSaba, this day saw the country rise in a united call for multiparty democracy, shaking the foundations of an oppressive regime. The protests, spearheaded by brave leaders like Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, echoed through the streets, demanding change and justice. Tragically, over 20 people lost their lives, and thousands were injured. The sacrifices made on that historic day compelled former President Daniel Moi’s government to allow multipartyism, forever changing the political landscape of Kenya.

Fast forward 34 years, and SabaSaba remains etched in the hearts of Kenyans. However, in 2024, this day has taken on a new, poignant significance. Recent protests against the Finance Bill 2024, spanning from June 18 to July 1, led to the deaths of at least 39 people, with 32 reported abductions and 627 arrests, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). The echoes of 1990 resonate deeply as Kenyans once again stand united against oppression and injustice.

This year’s SabaSaba is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during the recent anti-government protests. A march has been organized to honor these individuals, whose voices were silenced by violence. The pain and grief felt by their families and the nation are immeasurable, yet their bravery and sacrifice inspire a renewed commitment to the fight for justice and equality.

Adding a harmonious note to the day’s solemnity, a memorial concert took place at Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi. Organized by activist Boniface Mwangi and other dedicated individuals, this concert featured top Kenyan artists, uniting the community through music and shared sorrow. From 12 pm to 7 pm, the park echoed with melodies of resilience and remembrance, paying tribute to the fallen heroes of the protests

Siaya Governor James Orengo, a key figure in the original 1990 SabaSaba protests, has praised the youth for their unwavering commitment to democracy. In a powerful message, Orengo stated, “I am happy because the young people of this country have decided to march for their lives. I support you! I support your clarion calls of saying NO to dictatorship, NO to tribalism in state appointments, NO to police brutality, NO to corruption. I urge you to remain vigilant and steadfast because freedom is coming.”

What began as opposition to the Finance Bill 2024 has evolved into a broader movement demanding accountability from the Kenya Kwanza government. The youth, empowered by the legacy of SabaSaba, are now the torchbearers of a renewed struggle for justice. Their voices, loud and unwavering, call for an end to corruption, police brutality, and the entrenched tribalism in state appointments.

As Kenyans gather on this significant day, the emotions are palpable. There is a deep sense of loss, but also a burning hope for a better future. The spirit of SabaSaba, born out of struggle and sacrifice, continues to inspire generations. It is a reminder that the fight for justice and democracy is ongoing and that the sacrifices of the past fuel the determination of today.

SabaSaba is more than a date on the calendar; it is a testament to the resilience and courage of the Kenyan people. As we honour those who have fallen, we also celebrate the indomitable spirit that continues to drive the quest for a fair and just society. The journey is far from over but united, we move forward, ever vigilant, ever hopeful.