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The presidency of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was ended on 22nd July, 1994, by military officers who called themselves soldiers with a difference. 22 and a half years later the country was left near bankrupt, citizens murdered, wrongly imprisoned, maimed, tortured, raped, forced into exile and some whereabouts still not known. It’s therefore, befitting to remind ourselves the journey The Gambia took prior to 22nd July, 1994, and to remember the man who led us through that journey.

The author

This is why i deliberately chose to present my special report on Sir Dawda, on this very day, because I felt that it was the day democracy was subverted in country and it also marked the end of the rule of a great democrat on the African continent. So, my people, the great Gambian people, let’s celebrate Sir Dawda, on this day and reflect on what he had done for our nation over the years.


Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, GCMG was born in Barajali, on 16 May, 1924. He was a politician who was a significant national leader of The Gambia serving as its Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970, and then as its first President from 1970 to 1994. Sir Dawda, is the statesman who also led The Gambia to nationhood on 18th February 1965, when many thought The Gambia could not sustained herself.

DK, was resolute, determined and forwarding looking with great hopes for little Gambia when he took the instruments of power from the Duke of Kent. He took over the country with very little resources, no mineral resources poor infrastructure and with very few educated individuals mainly concentrated in what we now call the greater Banjul area.


The first mission of Kairaba was fostering ‘ethnic and cultural unity’ in a country that was ruled by the British for many years. He was able to bridge the gap between the protectorates and people dwelling around the capital city. Sir Dawda, being a democrat himself was also able to institute or establish democracy in The Gambia in a unique manner. As the leader of the nation, Sir Dawda, upheld the the principles of democracy and conducted the business of his government through democratic means. He was hailed by many of his colleagues for championing democracy and human rights in the subregion during his presidency. The Africa Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, is headquartered in The Gambia thanks to the great works of the father of our nation


The economy was in a dire state when Sir, took over the country. Expectations were very high from the farmers in the provinces who thought the new government will have a magic solutions to their problems. Though, it took the Jawara government a while to stabilise the economy, but they succeeded at it in the long run. The government was able to support the farmers in groundnut and cotton production which were exported to the world market. Agriculture became the backbone of the economy and constitutes nearly 70% of the country’s GDP.

Sir Dawda’s government was also able to develop viable State enterprises which supported the economy and enhanced employment opportunities in The Gambia. Parastatals such as, Gamtel, Gambia Ports Authority, Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation just to name a few has transformed the economy of the country. Meanwhile, all these viable state enterprises where completely looted by the monster of a president to satisfy his lifestyle during the past 22 unfortunate years of his rule.


I can say without any hesitation that Kairaba, is a master politician who mastered the game of politics and also chooses his words very carefully especially when responding his opponents. His great sense of humour earned him many friends and turned many of his adversaries to admirers. DK, never lost an election since he became President of the Country and had not issued any threats to the minorities tribes in order to gain their votes, nor did he used the police or the military to campaign for him or beat his opponent, and did not allow civil servants to actively campaigned for him on any political platform. He won all the those numerous elections through conventional politics in civility and on a level playing field.

Meanwhile, some of his critics say he had overstayed and was too lenient on his Ministers some whom were accused of corruption. Well, that may but true, but at least he has not forced himself on the people, rather it’s the citizens who wanted him to continue ruling them all those years.


The glorious son of Barajali, was very well respected amongst his peers during his presidency. He made great contributions to the African Union and ECOWAS. Many leaders on the African continent learned a lot from Sir Dawda, and were also inspired by his leadership style, as well as, how he promoted democracy and the rule of law not only in the Gambia but also the subregion at large. He played a great role to end the war in Liberia and participated in many mediation efforts to bring about peace in many countries around the world including the conflict between Iran and Iraq.

Recently, in recognition of his invaluable contributions to the African Union, his picture was placed on the wall of AU building as a mark of respect and honour. The current president of The Gambia, President Adama Barrow, had the rare opportunity to be among dignitaries who had the honour to put the picture up. I think that is a direct challenge to the new president of The Gambia. President Barrow should set himself to outperform Sir Dawda, as he has an overwhelming support both nationally and internationally.


The law of nature is such that, ‘if you do good, good lives with you and follows you too. If you do bad it also lives with you and follows you to your grave if you don’t repent.’

Sir Dawda’s premiership was punctuated with fairness, tolerance, forgiveness, and humanity. He respected the lives of citizens and never condoned torture talk less of murdering his own people like children. These good deeds lived with him after his presidency and will continue to live with him until he departs from the face of this earth. Is it not clear before our own very eyes? Yaya Jammeh sent him on exile, but, Allah forced him to bring him back to The Gambia. Allah also forced his mind, heart and hands to returned all his properties to him and allowed him to live in a dignified life in The Gambia. But, let’s it be clear, that is not the work of Yaya Jammeh, that is the fruits of Sir Dawda’s labour when he was in power. May he live longer! But, Allah willing he will die in The Gambia, accorded a state funeral in The Gambia and a great monument shall be erected in his memory in The Gambia. He shall always be remembered for all the good reasons and his name will ever be glorified until the end of time

On the other hand, killer, monster, rapist, looter, torturer and thief of a president, should also brace up for the fruits of his deeds. The law of nature never fails, and it follows you wherever you go. If you sow millet you will surely harvest millet not rice.

NB: The piece just highlights the gist of The Great Sir Dawda’s Leadership. It may have left out great chunks of what the great statesman had done for our country, but I guess it may be useful to many of you.

By Lamin Jassey

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