By Lamin Cham
Gambian tycoon and consul to Angola, Haji Jawara, has announced he is relocating all his companies from the southern African country to his native Gambia.
Jawara who spent 32 years in Angola owns a multi-million dollar holding company called Samuja.
Samuja is the leading manufacturer of diapers, sanitary pads, kitchen towels, paper handkerchiefs, restaurant napkins, and facemasks in Angola.
The Samuja production line is powered by ten modern manufacturing machines which are now being packaged and shipped to The Gambia.
Jawara told The Standard: “After more than three decades away and with a conducive environment for business now and love of country, I have decided to bring all my businesses to The Gambia. Obviously, such a move requires heavy capital investment in The Gambia. I have already applied for land for my warehouses, stores and offices among other things and that process is going on with the ministry of lands and other relevant authorities. My hope is that it will be fast enough in time for the arrival of the machines which are due soon.”
He said Samuja will ensure “a steady and regular supply of these products and make them cheap and affordable to all Gambians as well as create jobs for the country”.
Jawara became The Gambia’s consul in Angola in 1998.
He recounted: “When I arrived in 1990, I found that Angolan police were detaining many Gambians whose only crime was to go to Angola for greener pastures. I found that to be inhumane, coming from The Gambia where all nationalities lived peacefully. So I hired a lawyer and fought their cases in court. Luckily, the court freed them and I became a darling among the Gambian community there who recommended to President Jammeh that I should be their consul. At that time, Gambians in Angola were registered as British or Commonwealth subjects with very little rights. But since I became consul, we now register Gambians under our own consulate and we issue consular cards instantly. We currently have about 600 Gambians registered and there could be more Gambians there unregistered since most don’t bother until they run into trouble,” he said.
Jawara bears a striking resemblance to Jonas Savimbi, the assassinated Angolan revolutionary politician and rebel military leader.
Of this, Jawara explained: “Since I stepped foot in Angola in 1990, I never failed to attract attention at any Angola government function I attend as a diplomat. I get mixed reactions from Angolans for my resemblance to Savimbi. But overall, it brought me love, respect and great fame. Curiously, I managed to use this to strengthen relations between The Gambia and Angola.”