By Ousainou J. Sawaneh
The former statesman Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, the country’s first president’s remains was buried at the Assembly grounds in the capital city of Banjul on Thursday 29th August, 2019.
Jawara died on Tuesday 27th August, 2019 at his residence in Fajara, at age 95. His remain was laid to rest at the National Assembly on Thursday 17:00 GMT where he was accorded a state funeral and procession to pay last respect.
Opinions all over the social media indicated that the former President’s final resting place will be decorated as a form of a monument where students and other Gambians and the international community could visit anytime.
The former statesman led the tiny West African state from independence in 1965 to 1994, was ousted in July 1994, in a coup led by then army captain Yahya Jammeh.
He also served as the country’s Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 under British colonial rule, before becoming president.
President Adama Barrow has announced a seven-day national mourning from Tuesday to show respect to the fallen former leader, who is described as Gambia’s founding father. He also ordered for the lowering of the national flag at half-mast.
President Adama Barrow signed the Condolence Book in memory, gratitude, and recognition of Sir Dawda’s lifelong sacrifice for the good of The Gambia.
Barrow said the demise of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara is another reminder that all things must come to an end. “Our creator took his gentle soul amongst his family and loved ones in his homeland – a country he believed in, dedicated his life to, and served with humility and honest” he said
He added that since the birth of the Nation in 1965, Sir Dawda committed to bringing Gambians together, he urged Gambians to unite and work for the development of our nation.
“His legacy – love for peace, tolerance, championing democracy and human rights – is a legacy Gambians deserve. We appreciate his service to humanity and pray that paradise be his abode. Sir Dawda, rest in eternal peace.”
Jawara was born May 16, 1924 in Central River Region village of Barajally, Sir Dawda Jawara was a son of a trader. He went to Methodist Boys’ School in Banjul, studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1953. Returning to The Gambia, he became Principal Veterinary Officer in 1957.
Under him, Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and he remained as Prime Minister while Queen Elizabeth II remained as head of state.
In 1970, the country became a republic, with no monarchy, and Jawara was elected as first President but the greatest challenge to his power came in 1981 when an attempted coup d’état ensued the country and soldiers from neighboring Senegal were forced to intervene, with 400 to 800 deaths reported by the end of the coup attempt.