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Monday, October 25, 2021

Gambia’s first woman cabinet minister dies

Between sobs and tears, her adopted nephew and housekeeper Abdulkarim Koroma explained to The Standard yesterday: “Three months ago, Mama fell down and fractured a leg for which she was taken for treatment to Dakar thanks to the support of Pa Edi Faal, the son of the alkalo of Latrikunda German. However, over the past three months the illness intensified and she passed away on Friday at 6pm. 

“I am very, very sad for the death of aunty. She had always treated me like her own son. When I appeared at her house looking for a job as gardener, she told me she had only one son who passed away and that I would be her son. Since that that day, she always treated me with kindness like her own son. It was a demonstration of her trust and love for humanity that she moved me from gardener to a helper around the house running errands for her. I am devastated but I pray to the Almighty God for the repose of her soul.”

Mariama Jarju who served as a cook to Louise Njie for 15 years, described her demise as “a big loss not only to her immediate family but the entire Gambia”.

“She has served this country very well with patriotism for many years. Her house used to be always full of people especially on Sundays. I pray to God to grant her a place in the most esteemed paradise.

 

Life

Louise Antoinette Njie started her schooling at St Joseph’s kindergarten in 1927. She studied in colleges and universities in Ghana, the United Kingdom and Australia after completing her high school education. She became a classroom teacher in 1945 and rose to the level of headteacher in 1957. She was appointed education officer in 1964, an office she held until her retirement in 1977. Then she began her political career. She was nominated to the House of Representatives in 1977, appointed parliamentary secretary in 1979, appointed minister in 1985 and reappointed minister in 1987. 

When she was awarded the national order of the Commander of the Republic of The Gambia (CRG) in 1977, the citation stated: “…what makes her story more edifying is that Aunty Lou is a standard bearer for our women folk. She was the first president of the Gambia Women’s Federation, the first Gambian director of the Red Cross Society; the first Gambian woman to be appointed education officer; the first Gambian woman parliamentary secretary and the first Gambian woman cabinet minister. [She] left her footptints on the sands of time.”

 

By Sainey Darboe 

& Alagie Manneh

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