“I am sure we all know that nature cannot be cheated and anybody who lives up to 90 years cannot be as healthy as a 30-year-old but he’s fine,” his protégé and a minister in his first republican cabinet, Omar Jallow, told The Standard.
He added: “We are blessed to have Jawara not only as an intellectual but also a compassionate statesman. He believes not only in human rights and rule of law, but also in social justice. That has been his hallmark throughout his leadership as prime minister and later as president of this country. His sense of tolerance is rare.
“We Gambians owe a lot to Jawara. He has pioneered and led the independence struggle against all odds and challenges. He did not stop there but also campaigned for republican status so that The Gambia could be a sovereign state. I wish him all the best, a happy birthday and many returns.”
Also speaking to The Standard, the mayor of Kanifing municipality, Yankuba Colley, who doubles as the national mobiliser of the ruling APRC said: “I would like to congratulate him and pray that Allah gives him good health and long life. Like he [Jawara] himself said ‘life begins at 70’. He’s an elder statesman and I wish him good health to continue to steer the affairs of his family.
“He has given us independence. He’s the first president and led the country for 30 years. He surely contributed to the development of this country. That’s why we are wishing him well.”
Jawara was born in 1924, in Barajally Tenda village, 150 miles from the capital Banjul, the sixth son of a well-to-do businessman. He attended Mohammedan Primary School and graduated at Methodist Boys High School in 1947, and worked as a nurse at Victoria Hospital for two years before pursing further with his studies in animal science, in Ghana and UK, respectively. He returned home in 1955 and worked under the colonial government as principal veterinary officer. In 1960, he gave up the colonial position to lead the PPP and in the first nationwide election, when the suffrage was extended to the provinces, his party, won the largest number of seat in parliament. He was appointed education minister and then chief minister. He led The Gambia to independence in 1965 and became the Gambia’s first president when the country attained republican status in 1970. His regime was overthrown in 1994, forcing him to go into exile. In 2002, President Jammeh granted an amnesty to him and he returned as an elder statesman and has since declared retirement from part politics.
By Saikou Jammeh]]>