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Gambia’s founding father Kairaba Jawara laid to rest

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Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, according to veteran politician and long-term opponent Sidia Jatta, is honest and tolerant. Jatta said people would insult Jawara at his political rallies and he would do nothing to them.

Gambia’s founding father Dawda Kairaba Jawara has been laid to rest after an emotional state funeral at the National Assembly of the Gambia. Jawara, age 95, becomes the first political leader who is buried within the space of a public institution, signifying the respect he wields.

Jawara took leadership of the Gambia in 1965 when the country was deemed an improbable nation.  Following a funeral service at the Assembly Sir Dawda’s body was transported to King Fahd Mosque in Banjul for Muslim prayers after a 21-gun salute mounted by The Gambia Armed Forces.

The funeral services was attended by President Adama Barrow, cabinet ministers, former ministers under Jawara, Gambian politicians, diplomats, religious leaders and family members. These were joined by hundreds of ordinary citizens.

Former First Lady Ajaratou Lady Chilel Jawara, Njaimeh Jawara, his second wife and also The Gambia’s current First Lady, Fatoumatta Bah Barrow were all in attendance.

“He was a champion of human rights that respect everyone and the laws of the country. He was the founder of the OMVG and ECOWAS and he was a true Pan African and a democratic,” said President Barrow.

Jawara was born on 16 May 1924 at Barajally village  in the Central River Region (then MacCarthy Island Division). He was a son of a trader Almami Jawara. He was educated at the Methodist Boys’ School in Bathurst and then attended Achimota College in Ghana.

After leading The Gambia to independence in 1965, he first served as Gambian Prime Minister between 1965 and 1970 before he was democratically elected as President, with The Gambia moving from monarchy.

He was ousted in 1994 in a coup led by then 29-year-old Lt. Yahya Jammeh. He finally returned to The Gambia from exile in 2002.

“During his time, he ruled The Gambia with dignity where the rule of law was upheld,” said Speaker Mariam Denton.

Jawara was revered by both his friends and political opponents, said speakers at his funeral. Dr. Lamin J. Marena, family friend, described the former leader as one of Gambia’s greatest sons who can be emulated for his honesty.

Omar A. Jallow, a long-term ally of the former president and a cabinet colleague, said the Gambia would continue to celebrate Jawara’s successes and achievements.

“He is the champion of the independence and became the first prime minister. He never agreed to something that would compromise the laws of the country. He was someone who built the strong relationship between The Gambia and Senegal and signed agreements in the fields of education, health and more for mutual benefit of both countries,” said Jallow.

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