Gambia’s First and Former President, Sir Dawda Dies at 95


Originally published by MAMOS TV

By Ousman A. Marong

Former President of the Republic of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, 95, has passed away at his Fajara residence today.

Born of Mamma Fatty and Almami Jawara on May 16, 1924 in Barajally, MacCarthy Island Division, now Central River Region, the veterinary surgeon turned politician served as Prime Minister of The Gambia from 1962 to 1970 when the country became a republic.

He served as president from 1970 to July 22, 1994 when former President Yahya Jammeh, now exiled in Equatorial Guinea and his men overthrew him which brought an end to his democratically elected government.

Sir Dawda went into exile and only returned in The Gambia in 2002 and given the status of a statesman and occupant of ex-president’s office with retirement salary.

Jawara was educated at the Methodist Boys’ School in then Bathurst now Banjul and proceeded to Achimota College in Ghana.

The former Gambian leader was also trained at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine but completed his studies at the University of Liverpool as a veterinary surgeon.

When he returned to The Gambia in 1953 and commenced his career as veterinary officer, Kairaba married Augusta Mahoney.

He later married Lady Ngeme Mboge and Lady Chilel Njie.

He entered politics and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1960 as Secretary General of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) up to the time The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965.

Despite the independence agreement, Sir Dawda was still a serving Prime Minister, whilst Queen Elizabeth II was the real head of state of The Gambia as a constitutional monarchy up to 1970 when the county gained republican status.

Jawara’s agreement with former President Abdou Dioup of Senegal had given birth to the then renowned Senegambia Confederation but shrunken in 1989.

The confederation came eight years after the 1981 coup plot said to have resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang.

The Senegalses military intervened and Sir Dawda was reinstated.

Sir Dawda who is survived by a wife and several children will be laid in state on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at the National Assembly Building in Banjul at 4:00p.m.

Our reporter spoke to two veteran journalists, Cherno Jallow and Alhagie Malick Johns who have good memories of the former President’s story as a leader.

Mr. Jallow remarked: “It’s a sad day for The Gambia. Sir Dawda is the father of the nation. We got our independence with him as the head of the movement during the independence struggle.”

Mr. Jallow stated that Gambians owe Jawara as their first democratic leader.

“He was a very democratic fellow and that was why The Gambia was regarded as a democratic country,” he noted.

Alhagie Malick Johns described Sir Dawda Jawara as one of Africans greatest statesman.

He listed the first Gambian president’s virtues: “Sir Dawda was man of virtues, a man of truth, a man of understanding, a man who knew The Gambian story very well.


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