By Muhammad I.S Gassama
The father of the nation, the founder of the sovereign state of the Gambia and the veritable architect of our national unity, Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, fondly referred to as DK Jawara has ultimately succumbed to the dictates of the inevitable albeit gracefully and peacefully.
What a shame that the freezingly cold hands of death couldn’t spare even such a unique political giant of his time renowned for his outstanding democratic track record and impressive credentials.
The Gambia has been so blessed to have had him around for all this time, drawing on his wisdom, wealth of experience and insight into the all-important areas of good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
He was the patriarch whose advice and guidance served as indispensable guiding principles for which he’ll be very much missed.
By his passing, The Gambia and its bereaved people have been robbed of a great inspirational leader whose love for his people and country is simply exemplary.
That he was a visionary leader who dedicated his entire life to the service of his people and the development of his country, is an understatement. He was a nationalist to the core and a democrat to a fault. The national unity we all grow to cherish was his brainchild.
It was his strong conviction that the very survival of a tiny nation state of the size of the Gambia was contingent upon the unity of all its people away from tribalism and sectionalism, which are the main bane of the African continent.
The tribalism blah-blah that has become so commonplace nowadays had no place in Sir Dawda’s Gambia.
Nothing is more reflective of his belief in the wholeness of the Gambian society than the first step he took to change the name of the People’s Protectorate Party (PPP) to the People’s Progressive Party.
By this single act of reconciliation between the so-called Colony and the Protectorate people, he succeeded in the process in creating a better mutual understanding and respect between and among the disparate ethnic and sectional groups of our dear motherland.
At the continental and international levels, Sir Dawda was highly respected as a PanAfricanist who firmly believed in, and upheld the democratic principles as the basis of political pluralism and good governance for which he was a diehard champion.
It was against the background of his credibility on this score that he was on a number of occasions assigned to chair important international fora.
As we mourn the departure of this great SeneGambian political icon and celebrate his most productive life and legacy, we owe it to ourselves and to posterity that we further honour him posthumously in a variety of ways.
That’s the only way we can sufficiently show our appreciation of all the many good things that came our way through his visionary leadership.
Let’s also use this somber occassion of his transition to a better world in the hereafter to remember him for making the viability of the improbable sovereign Gambia state possible.
In fact, if it were not his persistence for the Gambia to be on its own as a sovereign state, the Gambia would have been handed over to its big neighbour at independence.
Again, without his wise leadership which was responsible for the peace, security and stability the Gambia has been known for since independence, our smiling coast country wouldn’t have ever smiled, let alone continue to smile to date.
As a national leader, he was legendary in every sense of the word.
Humility, compassion, tolerance, accommodation are some of his fine attributes.
The love of Gambians for Sir Dawda throughout his thirty odd years rule was evidenced by the fact that he has never lost a single election when elections were conducted in a free, fair and transparent environment.
The world, Africa and The Gambia have lost in Sir Dawda, a titanic political and humanitarian figure whose passing has left in its wake a huge vacuum that may not be filled anytime soon.
Obviously he was a hard act to follow in terms of being the guru, the mentor and the role model of the whole nation.
Fare thee well, Alhaji Sir Dawda and continue to rest warmth and comfort of your lasting fixed abode in Jannaatul Firdaws.
To the bereaved family made up of the entire Gambian populace, our heartfelt condolences and sympathy.
The loss is too enormous to grapple with and the pain too severe to put up with.