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Gambia remembers Sir Dawda at centenary

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By Lamin Cham

The late former president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara would have turned hundred years today, 16 May. He died five years ago at the age of 95.

As part of commemorations marking the centenary, President Adama Barrow announced last week that government will participate in recognising the pivotal fatherly role Jawara played in the history of The Gambia.

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At the level of the family, his elder son Dawda Jawara Jr told The Standard yesterday that the former president’s birthday had always been special but this one is particularly emotional as it brings back memories of Sir Dawda to the family.

On the activities around the centenary, JawaraJr said: ”The main activity today is a prayer at the Pipeline mosque at 2PM and there would be subsequent events around the years. As you already know, prayers have been observed in churches and mosques across the country”.

Mr Jawara further disclosed that they are working with the government on the inauguration of the mausoleum at the National Assembly grounds where Sir Dawda is buried soon as the work there is completed.

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Asked to comment on concerns that the former president’s party, which should be kept as his legacy is declining, Jawara Jr admitted that the marking of his centenary naturally brings up that feeling that the party should not be allowed to fizzle away. “But the decline of the party was largely due to the its banning, long exile and persecution of its officials as well as the seizure of its assets which incidentally is still on.

So, all these factors have made it hard for the party to operate on a fair footing,” he said.

On the future of the party, Jawara said the recent call for young people to get to know and embrace the party is aimed at inspiring the country’s young political class as a whole to know and play their role in persevering the party and not just targeting the biological children of officials of the party. Mr Jawara revealed that as a consequence of the centenary celebration, he has become a member of the party. ”But what is important is that no one in the family or another person should feel entitled in the party. Rather, the PPP is the party of all Gambians and that’s how it should be,” Mr Jawara said.

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