HIS EXCELLENCY ADAMA BARROW
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
EVENT: THE STATE FUNERAL OF FORMER PRESIDENT,
SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA
DATE: THURSDAY 29TH AUGUST, 2019
VENUE: THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, BANJUL
My Lord, the Chief Justice
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly
Secretary General and Head of Civil Service
Members of the National Assembly
Senior Government Officials
Family, Friends, Relatives and Associates of Former President of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Jawara
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Regional Governors, Mayors, Chairpersons of the Local Councils
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me begin by affirming that, “To God we belong, and to Him shall we all return.” With this declaration, let me confess that it is with deep regret and sorrow that I deliver this tribute on this solemn occasion. Having lost one of the most eminent leaders of our era, His Excellency, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, who departed this earthly life on Tuesday, 27th August 2019, the entire Gambian nation is in a state of mourning.
We are mourning because the nation has lost its first Premier, its first Prime Minister and the first President who led our beloved motherland for over three decades, from 1962 to 1994.
During those difficult years, Sir Dawda managed to transform the country from a colonial entity to an Independent Sovereign State and, subsequently, to a Republic. Therefore, he can be described as the father of the Gambian nation.
Internationally, Sir Dawda was a distinguished statesman who exposed The Gambia to the outside world with wisdom, intelligence and tactful statesmanship. His well-known philosophy of “Friendship with the World” and his recognition as a Champion of Human Rights singled him out as a leader who won the love, respect and admiration of many, both within and outside the country.
At the sub-regional level, we are proud to observe that Sir Dawda was one of the founding fathers of the OMVG and ECOWAS. Both of which continue to grow in strength and stature.
At the continental level, Sir Dawda Jawara was one of the notable generations of such prominent African personalities as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Julius Nyerere, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and Sekou Touray, to name a few.
Together, these were the statesmen who liberated Africa from colonial rule to Independence. Not only this, Sir Dawda was also one of the dynamic founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity, which is now the African Union.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will not belabor on Sir Dawda’s biography, as he leaves behind a detailed book on his life. In paying tribute to him, however, I must stress that he was a true Pan-Africanist, a democrat, an elder statesman, a visionary and compassionate leader, a father, a husband and a humanist, among a list of other compliments.
Importantly for The Gambia, President Jawara was a unifying figure who brought the diverse ethnic groups of this land together.
As a politician, he will be remembered for dedicating his life to the attainment of Peace, Progress and Prosperity for his people through the Party he led.
It is with a very heavy heart, therefore, that on behalf of the Government and the entire nation, and on behalf of my family and my humble self, I convey our condolences, prayers and well wishes to his family, relatives, friends and associates. I reassure them all that the nation stands by them in these trying moments, and will stay by them in the days ahead. Sad as the event may be, I pray that it strengthens us to build on the foundation and legacy he has left behind.
To his family and loved ones I say, we appreciate this gentle and loving son of The Gambia for being kind and selfless, yet strong enough to lead the nation to freedom and uplift the people’s dignity.
We should be comforted by the fact that Sir Dawda led a fulfilled life, and has left this world because parting is an inevitable aspect of life. We bid him farewell with grief, but we do so as proud Gambians. Therefore, to him, I say: Farewell, Sir Dawda, and rest in eternal peace. Farewell, and join the eminent sons and daughters who fought for the freedom and happiness of humanity. Farewell, and be admitted to the mercy of the Lord of all.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
For us, this is a moment of sadness, but also a moment to reflect on our lives and deeds. It is an event that should inspire all Gambians to strive to be counted among the successors of the great leaders who paved the path to salvation for us to follow.
In view of his status and achievements, Sir Dawda deserves no less than a befitting farewell and, therefore, no less than a state funeral, hence this solemn occasion.
May the Almighty God admit him to Paradise, bless his family, preserve his legacy, fortify us all to bear this loss and grant us a much brighter future than we can ever wish for.
I thank you for your attention.