By Tijan Massaneh Ceesay
Once he asked me during a Guard of Honor inspection where did I get my information from when I uttered that he was the first African Head of State to speak in Germany on Human and Peoples Rights,
Of course the answer was simple, I got it from my mentor and Dad, Saul Njie.
The inspection tune that day under the baton of Commander Mbai Jobe was DK Sabari, a fitting tribute to this Prince of Peace and Champion of Human Rights. I went on to say and I quote, ” This tune, highly emotive, is one that suggests diligence, fortitude, tolerance and patience,” Unquote! These are the traits of this great son and founder of our independence Alhagie Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, GMRG, GCRG.
Born Saikou Almami Jawara in Barajalli and formed under the watchful eyes of Pa Yoma Jallow, Sir Dawda ventured into an unfamiliar territory and yes, will leave an imprint as the greatest statesman ever in Gambian history hands down! Therefore, it is imperative I salute him on this day when he commemorates his 94th birthday for all he did with what he had, but above all, for nurturing that feeling of freedom Gambians enjoyed under his rule.
It was an honor covering him as a “reporter without portfolio” as he would occasionally remind me while I was plying the trade as a High School Student and of course as a fully accredited journalist of the Gambia Information News Services (GINS) following my completion of school. Thanks to Sukai Bojang who prepared me to ask the questions.
As he sits atop that beautiful hill overlooking the majestic water ways of the River Gambia and the serenity of Fajara with the melodious birds singing his praise at dawn, a grateful nation salutes him and prays for his continued well being. Jawawa had the said “independence is not the proverbial milk and honey, but rather, the time to come together and work.”
That time is now, if only we are to nurture that declaration he made in 1965. “The Gambia though small, may not be able to offer a lot in material terms but will be able to demonstrate to the world how a group of people with different ethnic origins and religious backgrounds can live together in Peace and Harmony.”
Well, its time we all look into ourselves and ask if we are keeping to this declaration which was in direct response to Berkley Rice when he dubbed The Gambia, “The birth of an improbable Nation.
” LEGAY JOTNA GAMBIA AM NA BOPAM. YAL NA YALLA KATAN AL LI CHI REEW MI NYU TAHAV BOLO LEGEY GAMBIA!
Happy birthday Barajali’s favorite son and the architect of the sovereign Republic of The Gambia! God forbid; but, when the inevitable sunset dawns on our nation, history will judge you and it will say thus, SAIKOU ALMAMI, The PRINCE OF PRINCE, THE DEMOCRAT AND THE MAN FROM BARAJALLI, gave his all to his country for a people he so loved and cherished.
We will not forget your bravery and the authority you spoke with from the Senegalese airwaves in Dakar when your own family was held at gunpoint. You did it on your own terms and sent the cowards into hiding with these words, ” I hold them individually and collectively responsible for any hostages they may be holding, should any harm befall them, the retribution will be total and terrible.” Unquote.
Jambarr ban ngoke! Jawara barajali, Gachengalama! It will be remiss of me if I don’t send shout outs to that beautiful woman of royal lineage, Ajaratou Lady Chilel Jawara, GCRG, who has stayed and upheld the sacred vow of matrimony, to love and cherish till death do us part. Mama Chilel, its not October, but its your birthday too. Well done, faithful Servant of God! Without the pageantry and spectacle, you stayed the course. Jarama.