‘Kairaba Jawara Didn’t Listen To Me’


Sir Dawda's personality alone is infectious!
Sir Dawda’s personality alone is infectious!

Before Lt. Yahya Jammeh had stolen President Jawara’s mandate, our country and her diverse people were accorded with full respect across the world. The Gambia had proven to be a beacon of hope for those African countries that were searching for democracy, the rule of law, human rights, etc. It was for this reason that the smallest country on mainland Africa had beaten all her giant sister countries in hosting the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights. We didn’t get it for free, we earned the continental Human Rights Commission.

Everyone becomes a winner when a country does well. Who stands to enjoy more than a person at the helm of affairs? Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara became a symbol of peace and hope in Africa and beyond. Jawara’s uncontested democratic system would later turn Banjul into a center of diplomatic explosion. The former President was relied on to mediate peace wherever it is missing and desperately needed. Who doesn’t want to listen to a person who preaches from the heart? In a nutshell, Sir Dawda treated his subjects with humility, respect and compassion. He did not have the heart to bury anyone – not even his opponents or students who barricaded his car – six feet deep even when he caught them red handed backstabbing him. He either responded with few joking lines or invited them for discussion. This is true in the case of Lang Hawa Sonko, a former opposition driver at the Medical and Health Department. The National Convention Party supporter responded to Sheriff Mustapha Dibba’s every sentence at a political rally with “I told Kairaba Jawara but he didn’t listen.”

Jawara didn’t fire or put Lang Hawa behind bars. He invited him to State House and engaged him on his (Lang Hawa’s) allegations. Th charmng leader laughed off and complied when the accuser said: “Are you not the one who introduce us to democracy which is all about freedom of expression? I will say anything that’s legal. Dig into your pocket and give me money.”

Lang Hawa joked about his fascinating encounter with the President wherever he went. He was never a fan of Sir Dawda’s ousted People’s Provressive Party but Lang Hawa’s love for Jawara’s style of leadership and the fear of tasting a new dawn had compelled him to join the pro-PPP demonstrators in 1994. He knew the dangers but Lang went for it because he feared the so-called “Soldiers with a Difference” would wipe out Jawara’s system of governance and replace it with jungle justice.

Unfortunately, most of our elites did not see what an unlettered person like Lang Hawa had seen 21 years ago. What is the essence of an education when its holder cannot observe, connect dots and predict the future? Did I hear you bragging of being an intellectual? Yes you are an intellectual prostitute whose judgment becomes clouded when it comes his/her selfish interest.



  1. Wow Very interesting narrative. I heard about this Lang Hawa story years ago and anytime it is narrated, it captivates refreshing memories of a functioning, engaging democracy.

  2. This is why we miss Jawara. Babil would have buried Lang Hawa in his Hutimat.

  3. Jawara is not an angel but he will be forever remember for guatanteeing freedom for us. His government too has its defects but compared to the Jammeh dictatorship, the PPP is a saint. When God wants to bless a nation, He gives them a sensible and considerate leader like Sir Dawda. When He wants to punish, He gives them the like of Pharaoh (Fir awn), grandpa of Yaya Jammeh.

  4. I did not believe anything about the above piece. This is my take.

    Respect must be earned and not demanded. If jawara cannot provide poor villagers basic needs like schools, university, hospitals or what no, how can he earn the gambian people respect.

    Gambian people elect leaders to do their job. Going around the world looking for respect is not what they are voted for. For 30 years and nothing to be proud of can only happen in the Gambia.

    Ppp, all around was a disaster and the impact are still felt. More will be revealed about ppp disaster after jammeh leaves office.

    • Malang, you can go around looking for respect the same way and manner Yahya Jammeh is doing, it still does not guarantee respect for you. Yahya, despite his global tours, has not got any iota of respect beyond The Gambia. If anything, wherever he goes, he brings unto himself and the country, a heap of embarrassments. So the sooner we put a stop to this the better for us all. Let us give credit where it is due. Former president Jawara was not the perfect leader Gambians had hoped for, but comparing him to Jammeh is not only a denial of the clear truth but also insane. I am not a fan of Jawara but it is insanity to even begin to campare him with this primitive man. Let us be objective in our analysis.

      I would advise that you go back and read the political evolution of The Gambia to fully appreciate where Jawara took over from the British, then you will be able to better assess him. It is an acknowledged fact that a nation can only progress when that nation is endowed with a solid and dependable human resource. At the dawn of Independence, the number of Gambian graduates could be counted (very few). This why some of his ministers (with or without portfolio) were barely literate. With such a dearth of human resource, he still managed to lay the foundation for economic take-off. He struggled to keep the government functional with a solid Civil Service to the admiration of other African countries. Isn’t this in itself a feat?

      Today, how many graduates do we have who can be deployed at will by Yahya Jammeh. Maybe, your own village alone is awash with plenty, not to talk of the entire country. Today, Gambians are all over the world doing well wherever they are, thanks to the strong foundation laid by the previous regime. Remember, national university only started churning out graduate in 1999 (through the UEP). Yahya Jammeh has taken us 5 decades back. Some of you will never understand the extent of damage this clown has caused our economy, our social fabric and our international image (of course with the help of some of us Gambians) until he leaves office. Just last week, I was talking to a friend who went to Hong Kong for a business trip. Whist watching TV in his hotel room, one of the local TV stations paraded some Nigerians and Ghanaians (sorry, no offense meant here) with Gambian passports caught in drug-related incidents. He could not hide his anger when he spoke to me about it. This is what happens when a manner-less idiot is allowed to lead a whole country. Isn’t this sad? That you as a bonafide Gambian can be suspect anywhere you go because people carrying Gambian passports (when they are not) have become deeply involved in drugs and other indecent criminal acts to the point that aspersion is cast on any person traveling on a Gambian passport. Malang, if this isn’t a concern to you, then nothing else should be. We should love our country and stop being selfish. At the end of the day, no one is going to clean our mess for us. So we’d better roll up our sleeves and dirty our hands before it is too late.

  5. How are the killing, torturing and firing of innocent people Malang? Please if you don’t have any thing sensible to say why don’t you shut up. We have freedom, liberty and prosperity with Sir Dawda Jawara as compared to this lunatic Yaya Jammeh. Most Gambians will prefer Jawara 90 times more than this useless president we have now.

  6. Sir Dawda Jawara earned his respect until eternity but Yaya is worthless character who even the dogs do not respect. He is a joke?

  7. Very interesting. no wonder they called him ‘kairaba’……

    Thanks for sharing.

    • PPP was a disgrace, I do not know how old some of you are but if you know the voting system at the time, any honest person will know what Jawara democracy was. Democracy is not about making jokes in meetings or be friendly with opposition or being recognised by the world but it should have been to defend the constitution and do the right things for your people.