EYEAFRICA TV: Gambia’s first president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara will be accorded a state funeral this Thursday at 16: 00 hours GMT, at the country’s National Assembly in the capital, Banjul, the government announced Tuesday evening.
The former statesman who led the tiny West African state from independence in 1965 to 1994, died on Tuesday at age 95. He was ousted in July 1994, in a coup led by then army captain Yahya Jammeh.
He had served the country as Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 under British colonial rule, before becoming president. He is expected to be accorded a state burial.
President Adama Barrow Tuesday afternoon sent condolences to the former statesman’s family, calling him a peaceful man which earned him the name “Kairaba Jawara” – meaning “Peaceful Jawara.”
Born May 16, 1924 in Central River Region village of Barajally, Sir Dawda Jawara was a son of a trader. He went to Methodist Boys’ School in Banjul, studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1953. Returning to The Gambia, he became Principal Veterinary Officer in 1957.
Under him, Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and he remained as Prime Minister while Queen Elizabeth II remained as head of state.
In 1970, the country became a republic, with no monarchy, and Jawara was elected as first President but the greatest challenge to his power came in 1981 when an attempted coup d’état ensued the country and soldiers from neighboring Senegal were forced to intervene, with 400 to 800 deaths reported by the end of the coup attempt.
Jawara continued to rule until 1994 when a coup d’état led by former president Yahya Jammeh seized power. He went into exile, but returned in 2002, and lives in retirement until his death.