A Gambian professional golfer Alhagie Drammeh described his last meeting with former president Sir Dawda Jawara as a gentle and peaceful heart to heart moment.
Jawara, who led The Gambia to independence, died Tuesday at the age of 95.
“As ever, Sir Dawda maintained his spirit and sense of humor as he recently paid us a visit at the Fajara Golf Course,” Drammeh tells The Chronicle.
The ex-president was a passionate golf player, and family sources said he maintained close contact with golfers at the Fajara Gold Course where he used to spend free time playing golf during his presidency.
“We had a great moment together,” Drammeh recalled. “His last words to me were ‘keep on competing and raising the Gambian flag high’.
Drammeh, whose friendship with the ex-president dated back decades, remembered Jawara as “an extraordinarily consequential president” of The Gambia, particularly in the arena of sports.
“He was so passionate about sports and golf in particular,” he said. “I use to play with him two to three times in a week at State House where there was a nine-hole course. Each time he won, he would just jump into jubilation. He just loved playing golf.
Sir Dawda’s last memorable trophy was the senior prize which he won in April 1994 in the Pro-Am tourney of that year, reported The Standard newspaper.
According to Drammeh, not only did Jawara mentored and sponsored Gambia’s first badge of golf professionals in the 70’s, but he was an ardent golf fan who understood the sport’s significant impact on society.
“He used the golf as a tool to bring joy and happiness to the people,” said Cherno Barra Touray, a teacher and sports administrator in the 70’s.
“His wife Lady Chilel was in my class at Crab Island. She was a good basketball player and Sir Dawda would always come there to watch her games. In 1983, Sir Dawda played a key role for the erecting of the country’s only football Stadium which was planned to be named after him, but he suggested that it be called the Independence Stadium,” Touray added.
Pa J.J Jatta used to carry Jawara’s bag when he played golf at Fajara.
He told The Chronicle that the late leader loved and promoted the game of golf more than any African leader.
“I’ve not seen or heard of any other African president whose love for golf matched that of Sir Dawda. He mentored and sponsored Gambia’s first professional golfer Bakary Samateh who’s now based in Senegal.”