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Nov 5, 2019, 12:17 PM | Article By: PHODAY SAIKOUBA JARJUSSEY

It was with profound shock and sadness that I learned the passing of His Excellency Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, first president of the Republic of The Gambia, which occurred on Tuesday, 27 August 2019.

Already, countless column inches have been written about Sir Dawda and continue to be written. Also, countless words have been said by so many, ranging from family, friends, colleagues and international figures, whilst debates, discussions and commentaries continue to dominate the multitude of media channels, including social media.

Thus obviously, we’ve had Sir Dawda’s family background, early life, education and the rest covered by and from many sources. Even now and more importantly we are still hearing from some of those who have worked very closely for, and with him. I’m proud to count myself as one. The relationship developed steadily beyond the workplace to an everlasting personal and family affair. I have lost a father, colleague and a friend all in one.  So, when Mama Lady Chilel called at the time to inform my wife Oumie and I of this event and to attend and say something, I took it not only as an instruction but as a matter of duty. The tallest order!

Unfortunately, however, Oumie is unable to be here with us today due to unavoidable circumstances, but she sends her best wishes for success, together with her brother Wandeh, and our daughter, Fanta. I also wish to extend condolences to the entire Jawara family wherever they are, on behalf of the Jarjusey family. I now have the singular honour and privilege to oblige.

When I joined The Gambia civil service in 1976, Sir Dawda was already President of the Republic. I was, among others, sent for further studies to return home and help in the development of a newly independent country. I returned home and joined the civil service accordingly.

Between 1976 and 1977, I served for very short periods at the following Ministries: Local Government and Lands; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Works and Communications and Education, Youth, Sports and Culture. I was posted to the Office of The President in 1977 where I remained for eleven and a half years; rising steadily but surely from Assistant Secretary, Senior Assistant Secretary, Under Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, to the position of Permanent secretary, Ministry of Works and Communications in 1988. Thus, the periods 1977 to 1988 was when I worked directly under Sir Dawda in the Office of The President, dealing with a broad range of domestic and international issues.

When The Gambia became independent in 1965, several welcomed the news both at home and abroad. However, at the same time, others expressed doubts and scepticism about the country’s ability to survive as a viable independent state because of its small size, paucity of economic resources and lack of a trained, educated civil service, among other factors.  A study was even carried out about a possible merger with Senegal. But the most hilarious reaction came in a book entitled Enter Gambia The Birth of an Improbable Nation by Berkley Rice. It was a caricature.

After Sir Dawda’s passing, I was contacted and interviewed by several media channels for my reaction.  My responses and participation in these interviews, plus this written submission jointly constitute my tribute to our first President and founder of modern Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.

At this juncture, however, I think it is pertinent and instructive to ask ourselves what Sir Dawda’s reaction was to the doom and gloom merchants about the future of the nascent country he led to independence? The answer was simple. He hit the ground running by strengthening existing institutions and creating new ones across the board for the administration, management and development of the country. Starting with the three key arms of government, the Executive; the Legislature and the Judiciary under a new political dispensation alongside the independence Constitution; a fully- fledged government emerged with collective cabinet responsibility; new ministries; and diplomatic representation abroad at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

 The country went ahead to take its rightful place in the international community as a member of the Commonwealth; the United Nations; the Bretton Woods institutions (the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and others; regional and sub- -regional organisations including the then Organisation of African Unity; and crucially setting up joint institutions with Senegal, beginning with the Senegalo - Gambia Secretariat. By 1970, Sir Dawda had completed the country’s political development journey when we became a Republic on 24 April that year.

At home, the launching and successful implementation of two National Development Plans by Sir Dawda’s  government, following his creation and establishment of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Industrial Development (MEPID) marked the beginning of a new approach to policy formulation, monitoring and implementation, full of freshness and creativity; boldness and vision as well as political will, leadership and direction. The outcome was positive and rewarding. To ensure continuity, Sir Dawda put in place a successor to the two Plans in the form of the Programme for Sustained Development (PSD).

 Every single sector, especially Agriculture in the production of our main cash and staple food crops groundnuts and rice respectively, great progress ensued. The Jahally - Patcharr Rice Development Project added a new dimension to irrigation agriculture and demonstrated a great effort and good example towards the realisation of self – sufficiency in our main staple food, rice. Other productive sectors of the economy including Fisheries and Water Resources and the Environment; Tourism and related industries; Health and Social Welfare and allied Services; Education Youth, Sports and Culture; infrastructure development and the preventative maintenance of government’s vital assets all received attention. To address gender inequality and usher in gender balance, the Women’s Bureau was set up, together with its Executive arm, the National Women’s Council to ensure Women’s full participation in the socio - economic and political development of the country. 

In his own professional area of Veterinary science where President Jawara started his civil service career amid the reputation that there were no cattle in The Gambia who did not know him, he came to know the entire country to his fingertips. This benefitted him immensely later during his political career. But again, with vision beyond the boundaries of The Gambia, he gave us the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC); a sub- regional Research Institution for Regional Cooperation on Livestock- based Agricultural Research for Development (ITC)) with offices at Kerr Seringe and fields at Sololo near Bansang in 1982. The Project, which was to cover four West African countries, was for the productivity of trypanotolerant N’Dama cattle to be kept under traditional management.

  Fundamentally, government put in place human resources development and capacity building initiatives through the Civil Service Reform and Training Programme under the Personnel Management Office (PMO); and a named, dedicated Minister for the Civil Service; amidst a more streamlined, effective and efficient service, well managed, well remunerated, more professional and therefore better. Good Governance, Best and Good Practice became and remained the guiding principles. Two institutions, the Management Development Institute (MDI} and the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) laid the foundation for and enhanced civil service and technical training.

It has been said by many at the time that our civil service was the best in Africa. Examples abound but suffice it to say this was the case. No surprises here because in all these we must always remember that Sir Dawda himself was a professional civil servant before he became a politician. Critically and crucially, he himself held the portfolio. What a strong foundation to build on for the professionalism and success of the Gambia civil service under President Jawara.

A great believer and exponent of the civil service from the word go, he upheld the independence and integrity of the service and saw it for what it was meant to be – the machinery and the engine room of government tasked with, under the leadership and direction of ministers, policy formulation; monitoring and implementation to deliver the government’s policies and programmes in an effective, efficient and business - like manner. He never interfered in its day to day activities and strictly adhered to the provisions of the Public Service Commission Regulations and General Orders, as well as the Judicial Service Commission Rules and Regulations and the Foreign Service Rules and Regulations.  Even in the exercise of his executive powers in appointments to certain positions like that of Permanent Secretaries (made under section (141) (1)) of the Constitution at the time, he studiously and strictly adhered to seeking and obtaining the concurrence of the Public Service Commission. Maybe, a formality but an important one all the same. Here was a President with Executive powers and so many pressing matters of state, paying attention to fine detail, a key quality and requirement for leadership.

Therefore, when Sir Dawda is advised against a certain line of action because it contravenes the constitution or any other laws of The Gambia, he recognised and accepted it. What he did was to instruct that other options and possibilities be explored to ensure the process is lawful; not illegal. No civil servant would or should be forced or compelled to carry out illegal instructions. I say this because I have been in such situations before. Accordingly, I do not, and cannot understand the opposite situation that has transpired since Sir Dawda’s departure.

  And he never asked or instructed for a job to be given to anybody, including members of his wider and close family as far as I am aware during my time in government. I say this because I know it for a fact, and this includes even his children who, when they raise job possibilities with him as any son or daughter would do with a parent get a straight forward answer: you know you have to apply in the normal way. I challenge anybody who says this was not the case.

 Yet when it came to supporting Gambians in job applications to international organisations, the effort and instructions from President Jawara were unmistakably and abundantly clear to ensure that the application gets full and timely support. Again, I know, and I was involved in some of them in the course of my official duties.

Similarly, to the best of my knowledge Sir Dawda never put his finger in the national till. He was always strict and conscious of the absolute need to protect public funds. I can think of several examples, most appropriately during the Budget session briefings and discussions with us before Cabinet. One example mentioned recently was his personal control of the telephone in the household, which I know a lot about. Few other people knew but sadly some of them have passed away. All I would say is that the matter ended decisively under Sir Dawda’s instruction. For me what happened may remain a moot point for the time being. In typical civil service style, the instruction was given to the Secretary General, but the actual action was taken by me. Yet again, as always, he showed by example, firmness in the protection of the public purse

 It is therefore laughable to hear him being wrongly accused of rampant corruption by (so – called trigger happy drug abuse soldiers with a difference) who, following their treason which remains unpunished, instantly proceeded to put in place institutionalised rampant corruption on an industrial scale. They established the worst murderous Republic of Kleptocracy in the history of our country and arguably anywhere else in the world in contemporary times; not to forget the gruesome torture and death trail they left behind or in their wake.

The avalanche of a tsunami - like explosive revelations detailed in the Report of the Janneh Commission was glaring and palpable. However, it’s Recommendations seemed to have been selectively, and may be even alarmingly, accepted and approved as such by government. Was a precedent being set here? In this connection, it should be recalled or remembered that during Sir Dawda’s Presidency we saw the most senior civil servant, the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service depart, following a Commission of Inquiry. No need to go into the details here now but some of us were aware of the entire process, if not living witnesses. And it should also be recognised that no government can bind it’s successor to decisions left behind, no matter how long the timescale. Therefore, reviews and revisits do happen.

When Sir Dawda abolished the death penalty, Jammeh reinstated it but even there continued to kill extra -judicially without due process. Thanks to the stomach churning and macabre evidence emerging so far from the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and painfully even more to come as once mentioned by Lead Counsel, all of us now know the location of the Killing Fields of the Gambia, bizarrely even including a hospital, a place of health and care provision. These were toxic Dark Days in the history of The Gambia as we descended into the bottom of the cesspit; far beyond the edge of the precipice; and the political landscape of the country transformed into an asylum controlled by the lunatics themselves. The effect was stunning and striking.  It has been said that those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. And this is probably why Jammeh insults the Holy Koran by going around with it as a toy whilst he neither believes in it nor practices what it preaches. Or does he even understand as he appeared to hide behind religion because he lacks any policy or what it means?

Who had the last laugh then? The legitimately and democratically elected President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara or Jammeh, the architect of treason; torture; murder; violator of human rights par excellence; the serial election rigger and congenital liar who made our country a pariah state? We all know the answer for sure -- Jammeh. Inevitably it is no surprise that he arrived with hubris and inevitably again, he departed unceremoniously with nemesis; with his tail between his legs.  Jammeh without responsibility, the prerogative of the eunuch throughout the ages!

We are all acutely aware that the essence of this occasion is to mourn the sad passing of President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara and to celebrate his life, times and achievements, but in doing so we must put everything in context to enable us extricate the facts; bringing out some uncomfortable truths, hence my remarks a few moments ago. Not to do so will only lead to confusion; prevarication and obfuscation. On the contrary, we need clarity beyond peradventure for the benefit of all of us. Comparisons have to be made to extrapolate the differences. So, I absolutely make no apologies for the said remarks. Now, as Sir Dawda would have it, let’s proceed with some optimism and positivity.

The creation of the Public Enterprises under the Divestiture and Rationalisation Programme on which Sir Dawda spent enormous amount of time and energy in spreading socio – economic and political development and prosperity in The Gambia, and to ensure the benefits were evenly spread as much as possible across the country was ground breaking. In addition to the sectors already mentioned, this ushered in another new initiative and added impetus to socio – economic development under President Jawara. The Gambia Produce Marketing Board (GPMB); the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA); the Gambia Telecommunications Company Limited (GAMTEL); the Gambia [Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA); the Gambia Public Transport Corporation(GPTC); the Gambia Utilities Corporation (GUC) now NAWEC; the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) and others under the supervision of the National Investment Board (NIB), itself under the Office of the President, became key arm’s length statutory institutions and solid tools in Sir Dawda’s development armoury, with their own Boards of Directors under designated Ministries, paying dividends to government under Performance Contracts and with  the ability and authority  to pay well-earned bonuses to their own staff as appropriate. The Parastatals became the “commanding heights” of the Gambian economy.

Sadly, like the rest of the economy, they too were vandalised; looted and destroyed beyond recognition by the military in civilian clothes. This was the age of civilianisation by military dictators in Africa to enable them to get into the good books of the West. Sir Sir Dawda and I had many interesting discussions and conversations about this practice in our sub – region and beyond.

Beyond the domestic agenda and returning to wider issues and areas, Sir Dawda grew to become a giant international statesman and a major global figure in the sub – region, the rest of Africa and on the world stage. As a founder member of, and a signatory to the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS}, he embraced with resilience all well - meaning organisations in our sub region, including the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA); the Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILLS); and others;  most important among them the Organisation for the Integrated Development of the Gambia River Basin (OMVG) and the Senegambia Confederation which Sir Dawda saw as our contribution towards sub – regional integration and African Unity. We’ve witnessed the creation and end of the Confederation but who knows what’ll happen next, depending on the desire and political will. And encouragingly, we’ve recently witnessed the realisation and fulfilment of one of the main objectives of the two countries – the construction and commissioning of the Senegambia Bridge. It was timely and fitting that Sir Dawda witnessed this unique, historic moment because he was involved in everything from the word go as we have seen in images from the archives whilst mourning his passing and celebrating his life and achievements.

In fact, it would not be outlandish or out of place to place on record and remind ourselves of Sir Dawda’s vision, keen interest and realistic approach to the entire process of this project. In response to  environmental and related concerns raised by President Jacque de Lores and Vice President Natali when he visited one of the major partners, the European Union in 1987, about the environmental effect of the construction of a Bridge/Barrage at Yellitenda/Bamba Tenda regarding flooding 24000 hectares of land and the health implications, plus the impact on the river regime itself, flowing from its upper reaches downstream, endangering the wild life as well as the fauna and flora, he acknowledged their concerns.  This was nothing new to Sir Dawda and was essentially in line with the letter and spirit of The Banjul Declaration which received international acclaim. Sir Dawda was far ahead on environmental issues and the topical and seminal subjects on climate change and global warming.

Although we’ve already mentioned the sister Republic of Senegal which surrounds the entire country except on the Atlantic, our relations with that country needs further elucidation. It reminds us of the Special (transatlantic) Relationship between the UK and the USA after the Second World War. In the case of The Gambia and Senegal, however, the Special Relationship has always been there because it is based on the recognition of two countries bonded by blood, history and geography. There couldn’t be a better expression or explanation. And in addition to living in the same geographical entity and belonging to the same ethnic groups across both countries the level of intermarriage remains unquantifiable and further reinforces the continuing relationship as normal as it has always been from time immemorial. These values and traditions have always been the bedrock of President Jawara’s policy towards Senegal.

Thus, geography; the past; present and future are the glue which will always, side by side, intertwined and inextricably linked keep the two countries together ad infinitum. We cannot see; project or conceive Senegalo - Gambian relations in any other trajectory hence the series of Treaties and Agreements concluded and binding our two nations together, ranging from the Agreement setting up the Senegalo Gambia Secretariat and up to the creation and establishment of the Senegambia Confederation. A lot has happened to date, but I think two significant events need special mention: the abortive coup of 1981 and the impasse following the December 2016  Presidential elections which Jammeh lost; accepted defeat, congratulated Barrow and then did the mother of all u turns by rejecting the results and refusing to go until ejected by ECOWAS; with Senegal at the forefront.

 However, it was 1981 which concerned Jawara and even though he was out of the country, he dealt with it with political savvy, diplomatic skill, toughness and characteristic bravery and courage, what with his country and people under siege by bandits and murderers from home ( also under external influences) in the name of a coup; and his own family  kidnapped for days. Giving up on his country and people was never contemplated or even considered by President Jawara as an option. This was a pivotal and defining moment not only for the President but also for the entire Gambian nation as we stood at the cross – roads of history. The reaction was typical and uncompromising. In a political and diplomatic sleight of hand, Sir Dawda responded to immediacy with immediacy by invoking the 1967 Senegalo – Gambian Treaty on Mutual Defence to quell the insurgency decisively. In military parlance, what a magnificent riposte!!!

 The aftermath, just like the episode itself which involved the loss of several lives, was not pleasant and  was soured by arrests and long periods of detention, and trials, but there was no summary justice in the form of extra- judicial executions as the world has witnessed in other countries in such similar situations. Those involved were dealt with in accordance with the law; some of those convicted and sentenced were granted Presidential pardons before the end of their terms. And throughout their human rights were respected and upheld. In short, this was vintage Jawara at his best in moments of adversity. To quote Sir Winston Churchill, “In defeat, defiance... In victory magnanimity…”

In the area of wider foreign policy, Sir Dawda bestrode the world like a colossus. Never in the annals of modern political history has a Head of State from such a tiny country both geographically and population wise as well as economically limited risen to become a huge international global figure on the world stage. We’ve already touched on some of his work and achievements in the sub – region and further in the international community, Sir Dawda excelled. I am reminded of the explanatory Commonwealth Secretariat publication, Small States in A Global Society.

Thus, one of the first major planks of his foreign policy derived from his domestic agenda but more specifically from his own character, belief and vision for the upholding of democracy; the rule of law and human rights within the context and framework of friendship with the world. The Pettinger Collegium on the Afro – European Dialogue and all that. His tireless and relentless campaign for the promotion of human rights led to a series of high – level international meetings  and conferences, culminating in the adoption of the African Charter for Human and Peoples Rights (The Banjul Charter) and the establishment of the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, both located in The Gambia. At the level of the Commonwealth, even though Sir Dawda himself was unable to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Melbourne, Australia 1981) due to pressing matters of state following the abortive coup in 1981, he gave clear instructions to the Gambian delegation led by Vice President Assan Musa Camara to propose the establishment of a small Human Rights Unit in the Commonwealth Secretariat. This was accepted and agreed, and the contribution acknowledged. A remarkable achievement for the records as well as for future reference.

Beyond the United Nations; the Commonwealth, the IMF and the World Bank and in addition to others already highlighted, Sir Dawda pursued a truly inclusive and diverse foreign policy at both the bilateral and multilateral levels, unlimited to mere political and diplomatic matters but embracing and combining  technical , economic and cultural cooperation with individual countries and the wider international donor community too. Political, diplomatic issues and economic cooperation were both sides of the same coin. And at the root of the policy was an impeccable, ethical and moral dimension: dynamic; purposeful and enduring.

We all remember how Sir Dawda took it upon himself to successfully negotiate peace between the Ivory Coast and Senegal when both countries were pitched against Guinea Conakry in a relentless war of words which escalated to and degenerated into a complete breakdown in their relations. Sir Dawda even brought Guinea into the OMVG to further cement the peace between Senegal and Guinea, adding that this was logical and meaningful because the River Gambia rises from the Fouta Jallon Highlands in Guinea and flows through all three countries, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

 There was the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and President Jawara’s Chairmanship of the Islamic Peace Committee which helped bring an end to the Iran/Iraq war. As a man of peace, he made sure The Gambia, individually and collectively through ECOMOG which he chaired, also spearheaded bringing a peaceful resolution to the troubles in Liberia and Sierra Leone.   

At the human level, Sir Dawda was a very kind, generous and compassionate person, an epitome of humility and selflessness which should not be misinterpreted or taken for weakness. He never wavered in the wake of 1981. He remained strong, with fortitude, determined not to give up on his country. He engaged the whole international community in the Campaign for the Restoration of Democracy in The Gambia after 1994, working with Members of Parliament in the House of Commons and the Lords, two Commonwealth Secretary Generals, the United Nations; the European Union and several others, particularly the Gambian community in the United Kingdom. Always very helpful, he made sure that he assisted Gambian exiles to regularise their immigration status, writing and giving affidavit after affidavit and letters and statements in support of immigration and asylum applications. Several benefitted and ended up becoming British citizens. He did the same for exiles in other European countries and the United States of America.

Thus when we eventually come to chronicle the life and times of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in addition to what he himself and others have already written, we cannot but restate and re – enforce the conclusion  that he was a huge international figure , a giant of a statesman with impeccable democratic; and political pluralism credentials; a public – spirited and broad – minded person,  full of empathy.  He was also a deeply conscientious and religious person with Friday prayers featuring permanently in his daily routine on that important Islamic day of the week; observing all the five pillars and other requirements of the faith; committed to peace, progress and prosperity. Always, fair, he was meticulous and thoroughly investigated to establish the truth if someone is reported to him before deciding and taking any action. He would deal with the politicians and the Secretary General with the civil servants in accordance with the law and established procedures. I know because for my part, I eventually lost count of the number of times I have been reported, even though there have been some critical ones I will never forget. And it is true that I did make some mistakes, instead of being thrown into the lion’s den, I was advised to learn lessons from them. Accordingly, for the time being, silence is golden; because I have never been subjected to any injustice by Sir Dawda. Never; Ever!!!

So, as we say our very long goodbye to you Sir, we say a big thank you for the immense contribution you have made towards shaping our lives individually and collectively during your stewardship. It is now left to us to sustain and build on your enduring legacy to ensure that Peace, Progress and Prosperity remain our guiding principles. And go well Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara with a clear conscience and a clean sheet. Nobody can talk about huge amounts of money and assets siphoned off in your name; or buildings and lucrative properties in foreign countries in your name. Your home village and birthplace, Barajally, remain a modest rural village. As far as I know, state funds were spent only on the Rest House. The mosque was not built from state funds and we know that. Relatively speaking, you went a poor man, and this makes your legacy even a prouder one for honesty and contentment. The rhetorical question is which other Head of State would in The Gambia or indeed the wider world be seen to be so whiter than white?

Sir Dawda’s passing has provided us, every single Gambian, a huge and urgent challenge as well as a unique moment for deep reflection and soul searching and I wish to share my thoughts with you in the context of what happened. It is often said that you don’t know what you wish for yourself. Those celebrating in 1994, please take note! Enough said. To correct over two decades of deliberate, wilful and wanton destruction is a gargantuan task which requires solid commitment to renewal, a Gambian renaissance to repair and reconstruct; and to retrieve our independence given to us by you, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and callously stolen from us on 22 July 1994. It was a case of naked and brutal democratic; political; human rights; freedom; socio – political and economic robbery. The mother and father of all robberies in the history of our country. We moved from in Mandinka, Kairaba to Koroba and in Wollof, Jaama to Musiba.

The establishment of the truth; reconciliation and reparation will not be a short and easy journey as we have seen, and in a manner speaking already seems to be fraught with turbulence and uncertainty, with witnesses deliberately refusing to answer direct and simple questions or being evasive; possibly even dissembling, And there is even a bigger question to answer, albeit outside the remit of the TRRC.  Was July 22 a collective national failure or a conspiracy or both? Another and even a bigger moot point. Let’s wait for the outcome of the entire process.

 May be a good beginning will be to start with a Sir Dawda Jawara International Airport: BANJUL DKJ or DKJ BANJUL or whatever to help settle our very raw nerves and emotions, marking the biggest celebration of his life; times and achievements. It is m y firm believe and fervent hope that this will go down exceptionally well nationally and doubtless internationally. At the end of the day, however, this is just a suggestion and others may similarly have different ideas, but it will ultimately be a decision for the powers that be if it happens; including the timing. And more importantly whatever memorial structure(s) is/are named after Sir Dawda, it must be done in consultation and with the consent and full agreement of the family.

Most law-abiding Gambians who eschew crime; violence; greed; hatred; and all the evils depicted in the images and deeds of Satan, Firaon and Iblis individually and collectively all wrapped into one, should never have undergone such cruelty and barbarity from their own.  Neither Sir Dawda nor the people deserved such abomination as 1994 and what followed. The gentle and generous people of the smiling coast, known for their friendship with the world will hopefully always remain proud, tolerant and compassionate as their departed leader, Sir Dawda, who has always kept a fine balance and had an infectious sense of humour too, and much affection. His belief in, and adherence to democratic politics remains the jewel in the crown of leadership and puts to shame all those who abuse and misuse their positions and powers to oppress and silence those whom they swore on oath to protect. President Jawara, go with your head held high true to your oath as a true Gambian Nianinka. Gambian Nianinka to the core.

As we reflect, we should all be honest, recognise and accept the fact that we must face recalcitrant reality, which simply is that it has been and continues to be the case that since Sir Dawda left office in 1994, we have never been at ease with ourselves as apeople and as a nation.  Therefore, whatever interpretation or slant anybody gives these words, one thing is certain, they are pregnant with meaning. This is the key to paving the way to our reflection and renewal. Let us summon and unleash our collective energy and imagination to finish the unfinished business of Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Let us proceed and do it for Sir Dawda, for ourselves, for our children and for future generations and above all for our country, The Gambia, our homeland. For Sir Dawda, you have done your Best and that’s it for you as nobody can do more than his or her Best.

Before I conclude I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mama Lady Chilel for her love and care for Sir Dawda during 51 years of loyal, committed and distinguished marriage and to Mama Lady Njaimeh for her love and dedication too. We owe both bucket loads of thanks. Thanks also go to the organisers of this event and all those who gave their time to be present here today.

We were all richer for knowing you Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Sadly, we are now all poorer without you. You’ll be dearly and greatly missed. A Jawaraless Gambia is an orphan and we have all been orphaned with your going.  You really burnt your heart out for The Gambia and may the Almighty Allah reward you abundantly with the highest place in Arjanah.

 Amen and thank you Sir, from the bottom of my heart.