The Gambia’s former president Sir Dawda Jawara has died at the age of 95, family sources confirmed.
Born May 16, 1924, Barajally in Maccarthy Island (now Central River Region, Jawara was the Gambia’s Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 and its President from 1970 until he was overthrown in 1994. More on his biography can be found here.
Tributes have been pouring in for a former leader credited for putting The Gambia on the international map. A message from BarrowPorg, President Adama Barrow’s official Facebook page reads: “It is with regret to hear the news of the demise of former President, Sir Dawda K. Jawara, who died at the age of 95 as an elderly Statesman. His passing is indeed a great loss to the country in particular and humanity in general. I hereby extend my deepest condolence to his family and the entire Gambia population. May his soul rest in peace.”
Fanta Jarjusey, whose father Phoday was a permanent secretary to Jawara, writes: “I’m actually speechless. The last time we saw you was only a few months ago and you prayed for us and reunited with my dad after so many years. More than just a President, you were the father of all Gambians. Thank you for being such a prominent influence in all our lives. May your soul rest in forever peace”
For Basidia M. Drammeh, a Gambian based in Canada, “The Gambia has lost its founding father, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara; the man who’s led the country to independence and is largely credited for adherence to democracy and rule of law.”
Rest in Eternal peace SDKJ!! You shall be remembered forever for all the right reasons, says university lecturer Nyima Camara, who describes Jawara as democrat.
The Gambia has lost a towering figure, revered for his sheer tolerance, strong believes for human rights and democratic values, writes former Daily Observer editor Hatab Fadera.
“Sir Dawda and his compatriots lifted an improbable nation to a level where it became one of the best multi-party democracies in the sub-region. At a time when bloody wars plagued the sub-region, Sir Dawda managed to keep small Gambia a safe haven for peace. He opened The Gambian borders to thousands of refugees who later found safety and security. He will also be remembered for instituting a decent civil service as well as several institutional structures. The Gambia truly lost a giant,” he says.
“No one has impacted more the collective history of The Gambia than former President Jawara,” says Nfally Fadera, a senior communication officer at the Office of the President. “You’ll forever be remembered for your extraordinary statesmanship, tactful diplomacy, and enduring symbolism of peace! Adieu.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.