Sir Dawda dies, state funeral to be offered tomorrow

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The nation in mourning as its founding father Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara has passed away on Tuesday 27 August 2019. He was 95.

President Adama Barrow has confirmed that a state funeral will be held for the first president of The Gambia on Thursday at the National Assembly at 4 p.m.

Sir Dawda Jawara was born at Barajally village on 16 May 1924 in the Central River Region (then MacCarthy Island Division). He was a son of a trader Almami Jawara. He was educated at the Methodist Boys’ School in Bathurst and then attended Achimota College in Ghana.

He has been trained as a veterinary surgeon at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine and then completed his training at the University of Liverpool. He returned to The Gambia in 1953 and married Augusta Mahoney, beginning work as a veterinary officer.

Sir Dawda decided to enter politics and became secretary of the new People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1960 election. He became the leader of the PPP and then the country’s first Prime Minister in 1962, only the second ever head of government following Pierre Sarr N’Jie’s term as Chief Minister.

He led Gambia to independence in 1965. He first served as Gambian Prime Minister between 1965 and 1970 before he was democratically elected as President, with The Gambia moving from monarchy.

He was ousted in 1994 in a bloodless coup led by then 29-year-old Lt. Yahya Jammeh. He finally returned to The Gambia from exile 2002.

President Barrow who visited the former president’s home in Fajara to pay his respects and discuss funeral arrangements with the family on Tuesday described the day as a “very sad day for The Gambia.”

He also described Jawara’s demise as a “huge loss for the nation and African continent,” adding that he was a great man who believed in democracy and the rule of law. “He was also tolerant and dedicated his life to the service of humanity.”

Ousainou Darboe, former vice president of The Gambia and leader of United Democratic Party described Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara as the George Washington of The Gambia.

He pointed out that “Sir Dawda brought us liberty when political pluralism was somehow unknown.”

“Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara respected the rule of law and made sure the ordinary Gambian had his due.” He stated that he also addressed the economic issues of the country and made sure the country’s economy turned around when we were sinking without regard to political consequences he could face.

“We have lost an icon who was contented and carried himself with dignity in everything he did,” Mr. Darboe added, while describing him as “very religious.”

Bakary Bunja. Dabo, former vice president under PPP government, described Jawara’s demise as a “terrible loss for the country.”

“He was a great servant of the nation. What he had done is an open book for everyone.”

Retired Lieutenant General Ousman Badjie and former Chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Armed Forces, said he couldn’t believe the news and described his demise as a loss to the African continent.

KMC Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda described the late president as a champion of democracy.

He said “we should remember our first president for his civility and should try and copy those values and show more brotherliness to each other.”

Mohamadou Musa Njie (Papa), the leader and secretary general of the People’s Progressive Party, said Sir Dawda continues to be a role model to all of us and we will miss him greatly.”

 “I learned from him that in order to lead, you have to listen, consult and do away with tribalism.”

Kebba Jallow, first elected mayor of KMC under Sir Dawda Jawara’s government, said Sir Dawda wasn’t only the president of The Gambia but a great man for the African continent.

“Jawara was the embodiment of peace and development of the country,” Mr. Jallow said, adding that he brought unity and development to the country. “He had no tribal sentiment and saw everyone as equal.”

Minister of Information Communication and Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah, said Sir Dawda had always been a consummate leader who also led by example.

“He respected human rights, the rule of law,” he said of Jawara, adding that he set up strong institutions and laid down a strong foundation which we are still benefitting from.

Dembo Sabally, Gambia Democratic Congress chairman, said Sir Dawda will be remembered as a humanitarian and a great man.

Imam Ratib Cherno Kah, said he was a world leader particularly our sub-region who led the country in a very peaceful and democratic manner.

Religious leaders, political party leaders, senior government officials, family members and loved one all gathered at his Fajara residence to pay their respects.

Author: Cherno Omar Bobb & Kaddy Cham