The man who led the Gambia to Independence in 1965 had finally got what he had been long waiting to see: the Gambia without Yahya Jammeh, an army lieutenant who headed a group of ragged-tag soldiers and dislodged the People’s Progressive Party government from power. Sir Dawda Jawara, who would be forced to go into exile in England where he battled hardship, later returned home in 2002 after being granted presidential amnesty. Jawara had since been living a quiet life in the country.
Despite challenging health resulting from old age, elders were upbeat that God would spare Sir Dawda’s life so he could see the end of Yahya Jammeh. So many elders over and over reiterated that Yahya Jammeh would not be around during Jawara’s last days. “Allah has accepted our prayers that Jawara will see Jammeh face humiliation,” one Jarra elder had earlier said.
Sir Dawda’s greatest happiness arrived last week when President Adama Barrow visited him. The visit is historic for many reasons. Gambians are grateful to Jawara and Barrow for freeing them from the yokes of colonialism and tyranny. Unlike Yahya Jammeh who ruled with iron fist, Jawara and Barrow are democrats.
After congratulating President Barrow for his election victory, Jawara offered him words of leadership wisdom and prayers.
President Jawara, a graduate of veterinary science, helped saved cattle population in the country from being wiped away by disease. He dabbled in politics and became minister and chief minister before assuming the office of presidency on April 24th 1970, when the Gambia attained republican status.