His Excellency Sir Dawda Jawara, the first president of the Republic of The Gambia clocks ninety-five today.
Dawda Jawara was born on 16 May 1924 in Barajally in the Central River Region of The Gambia.
He started his schooling there before proceeding to Banjul where he completed the primary and secondary stages of his education.
He went further to study veterinary science in both Ghana and Scotland, returning home to work for his motherland.
Sir Dawda Jawara’s work as a veterinarian reminded him daily of the poverty and want that his people were living in. So when Sanjally Bojang and his cohorts came knocking on his door to lead them in politics, he said goodbye to his quiet personal and sheltered professional life.
He later led efforts to gain independence from British colonial rule and became first prime minister and later president of the Republic of The Gambia.
Sir Dawda’s regime lasted from 1965 to 1994 when soldiers led by Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh overthrew his government after which he went into exile in England until he was amnestied by Jammeh to live as a private elderly statesman.
Jawara’s rule was a benevolent one and the country enjoyed some level of democracy and freedom. It was due to his government’s respect for human rights that the first ever Charter for Human Rights was negotiated here and thus it is widely known as the Banjul Charter.
Though the rule of Jawara had its serious shortcomings, the fact that he sculpted what became the Gambian republic and held it together as an oasis of stability and beacon of democracy in a troubled and politically unstable region will always remain giant feathers in his big cap.
The Management and Staff of The Standard Newspaper wish Sir Dawda a very blissful birthday. May you continue to live and serve as a symbol of all that is good in our republic!