Chilel Njie-Jawara imposed by her own cultural qualities to remain an
everlasting icon, star and role model for the older and younger generation of
Gambian women. If you want a role model to guide you in marriage and service to
one’s people and nation just study her life story!
Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was a great man with Chilel Njie-Jawara, a great woman flanking him to complete his image of greatness!
Along the contours of time we have all been watching this woman walking side by side with Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara .We have been seeing her glow like a gem in the field of politics and the geography of family ties surrounded by cultural values. Lady Chilel is known to many as a first lady and of course a partner or wife but deep inside she means more to most of us. She is a lioness who never wanted to see her man belittled or misled by any party or interest group. She remained the adviser and shield in the open. Although most of the time behind closed doors. Some of us heard about her in the village while growing. Life ushered us through time and existence until we saw her during meetings, rallies, tours, at the airport and celebrations. She was always the center of attention for many whenever her husband was in a crowd. People were constantly being told how determined and loyal she has always been as a wife. Even though she was the daughter of a very rich man she remained married and endured a lot in it. Her father the late Alhaji Momodou Musa Njie would be so proud of her where ever he is today. His daughter remained the partner of the icon of a young nation which was nurtured by those very cultural values in faith not colonialism. Our culture refused to leave small Gambia in the hands of colonialism at end of the road western education brought in by colonialism was transformed into resistance within a culture of tolerance and reasoning; where emotions never overwhelmed our national goal. That goal was geared towards freedom and nothing less. In The Gambia where our own culture taught us that freedom was ripe. Dignity was then recognized by Francis Edward Small with men like Sir Dawda Kairabaa Jawara. They fought a decent war by using wisdom, intelligence. This is how they were able to silently study the ways of the colonialists without being emotionally charged. They remained reasonable within the calculus of strategies. Her husband was a man of the people therefore a man whose time was shared even at odd hours. Honesty has this to say to us. “A man of the people cannot be great without a woman of the people whose character is enriched by tolerance and understanding of a noble mission she was part of. Certainly only a wife dedicated to see her marriage as a life time project can remain till the end with popular and great men like Sir Dawda. Many failed the test Lady Chilel passed on August 27th 2019 with flying colors! I for one respect Lady Chilel Njie so much. Along the way some of us came closer to her surrounding when I joined the gendarmerie afterwards became a protocol welfare officer. At the gendarmerie we guarded all functions or arrivals at the airport therefore proximity to her and the late husband Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara became part of our duties. So I was close to the state house when I became part of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mark you Sir Dawda with those who can recap all the sequence of events saw the Union Jack come down in 1965 but he did not begin freeing us from colonialism in 1965. It began way before some of us were born then continued after we came to this earth. Today we heard speeches indicating to some of us that the battle against colonialism which was based on divide and rule began in 1959! I kept rolling until 1970 April 27th when we became a Republic. Speeches or eulogies of the fallen national hero during his state funeral brought us an event where the participants themselves narrated a part of history they witnessed in flesh and blood. Omar Amadou Jallow alias O.J., Sidia Jatta and President Adama Barrow including the rest of the speakers spoke for me when they made reference to the qualities embedded in Lady Chilel Jawara.
Lady Chilel’s dedication to marriage, service to her husband and nation was manifested beyond what many are yet to know. I remember when this lady took her time to call me all the way in America to pray for me after listening to some of my videos where I tried to add my voice to who Sir Dawda is for our nation. After I returned home through Mai Kanyi and her daughter in law Fatmatta Jabby Jawara, I was received at old Atlantic. I met the old man in his room. On that day I sat on the floor then asked the old man to pray for me.
Lady Chilel shed tears while thanking me for whatever was said in honour of her late husband. What a loyal wife!
What a woman of class whose class acts will ever remain part of the bill board of role models of all first ladies and married women in this world to be more specific The Gambia.
If history did not guide and guard all of us to the 27th day of August 2019 or when Papa J died some of us might not have known who the fallen hero really was neither would we have known who the real Lady Chilel is.
She is Winnie Mandela and Mrs. Machel Mandel combined in one.
Hearing Sidia Jatta called her my niece, O.J. and Barrow thanked her for remaining near the father of the nation was pleasing and reassuring.
Time and truth and the best of partners!
Triumph is for you too Lady Chilel!
Lady Chilel Njie Ajaaraama!