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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Letters: Blood is thicker than water – the unsoiled name and legacy of Sir Dawda

Dear Editor,

The recent development in our political arena has brought together political parties to form an alliance. PPP has declared to be part of this alliance. 

The existence of PPP has been globally synonymous with the principles of democracy which were upheld through the rule of law and the prevalence of justice. The party leader, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, was internationally acclaimed as a doyen of democracy. He embraced these ideals at a time when most, if not all, of his contemporaries travelled along the road of dictatorship.

Democracy is not an empty framework of governance. It has an underlying pillar of the rule of law in order to establish justice which is the principle that society and its institutions are subject to and accountable to law – a law which is applied and enforced (my emphasis) fairly.

It is thus disheartening to observe that the current leadership of PPP is justifying their alliance with NPP in the name of Sir Dawda, a man so respectful of the rule of law almost a fault. 

The character and quality of leadership can be gauged by the tenacity with which he/she upholds certain universal principles such as vision, selflessness and decisiveness. The following quotes below go to unveil such a character in Sir Dawda especially demonstrated by the implementation of the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) in an election year.

“The country had taken on the whole programme as a package and did not cherry pick which of its aspects were convenient to apply. We went the whole hog, whether it was administrative reforms, retrenchment, reduction of subsidiaries to farmers or any of the measures on a tough list we had to introduce (my emphasis). But because we knew it was a massive load to demand of the people, I went on a countywide tour to explain the ERP. I told the people what it meant, and shared with them the purposeful outcomes if they came through with us”. – Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, Excerpt from the book “Kairaba” page 287 and 359.

This principled reasoning has its foundation from another of his quotes:-

“I can never claim it was easy to sow democracy. People criticized me for having been too democratic, too soft and too ready to listen to the other side and to weigh their stories and their concerns. They castigated me, saying that a leader ought to be decisive. The Chief has the last say. I insisted that power must be guided by law and society must be governed by conscience. Democracy is a culture to be learnt”.

I can only imagine what Sir Dawda would have done if given the choice to join forces with alleged perpetrators at the cost of justice and human rights for victims most of whom suffered because of the fight to reinstate the love for democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law that he instilled in them and championed across the world.

As a close member of family, I can confidently say that Sir Dawda would have vehemently dissociated PPP in general, and himself in particular, from an alliance, the formation of which, he would have considered AN INJUSTICE TO THE VICTIMS of a regime that trampled on the freedom of its people, extensively and habitually flouted the rule of law, jettisoned the democratically adopted constitution just to craft and replace it with an insidious one that was used as a tool of abuse and repression of its own people to levels that have hitherto been unimaginable in this once peaceful and socially cohesive country – The Gambia. 

It is not uncommon in politics for politicians to make decisions calculated to achieve what they perceive as their objective. However, PPP, moving forward with their political agenda, should stop using the good name of a man internationally respected for his regard for the rule of law and justice. It will also be a good demonstration of a leadership with conscience to observe the tradition of having great regard and respect for the dead. The abuse of the silence of a dead man can haunt one’s conscience in so many ways.

Some, if not most, might come to know and love the person of Sir Dawda for the principles and values he embodied, but with me, we share blood and lineage. He is my father’s younger brother and they come from Almamy Jawara. They were God-fearing and selfless in whatever we did, be it trade, politics or otherwise. They never turned their backs on the needy or the underprivileged.

Therefore, as a member of Sir Dawda’s family, I stand and will remain a voice to vehemently defend the legacy of this giant of democracy. The unethical and unconscionable attitude of disrespect, cheap and deplorable use of his name and legacy by people whose hands are too soiled to even tie his shoe lace cannot go unchallenged – after all blood is thicker than water.

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