The Gambia’s former President on Tuesday died in his Fajara residence. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, aged 95, will be laid in state at the National Assembly in Banjul on Thursday, August 29th.
The son of Mamma Fatty and Almami Jawara was on May 16, 1924 in Barajally, MacCarthy Island Division. Sir Dawda attended Methodist Boys’ High School in Banjul before proceeding to Achimota College in Ghana and Glasgow in Scotland. He graduated with veterinary science degree. Upon return home, Sir Dawda worked at the Vertinary Department. The vertinary doctor would later join politics and formed the Protectorate People’s Party which later became the People’s Progressive Party.
Mr. Jawara served his country’s Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 when The Gambia, a former British colony, became a republic. Through his leadership, the country dubbed “the Improbable Nation”, attained Independence on February 18, 1965. Sir Dawda served as President from 1970 to July 22, 1994 when a disgruntled military junta led by former Lt. Yahya Jammeh overthrew him. Jawara was forced to live in exile in England until 2002 when he was granted amnesty and given the status of an elderly statesman. An office of a former President with retirement was created for Sir Dawda Jawara.
Despite meagre resources — material and human –Sir Dawda’s government was able to provide democracy, the rule of law and human rights to Gambians. One of Jawara’s biggest achievements was his ability to unify his country’s diverse people. The Gambia under his rule became a darling of people, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Sir Dawda’s government was not without hiccups. It was during his leadership that The Gambia experienced a rebellion led by the late Kukoi Samba Sanyang in July 1981. The aborted coup caused huge destruction to people and the people resulting to the economic downturn. This followed the Economic Recovery Program that sliced the size of the civil service by almost half.
The Gambia government forged a confederation with Senegal whose military intervention culminated in the installation of Sir Dawda Jawara. The Senegambia Confederation, which lasted for seven years, brought the two countries together. Its creation led to the establishment of the Confederal Parliament and Army.
Jawara was survived by a wife and several children.