Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara died on the 27 August 2019. The fallen hero is the founding president and author of the Gambia’s independence.  

President Adama Barrow has instructed that a full state burial befitting Sir Dawda’s impressive and inspirational legacy be accorded. President Barrow has also declared three days of national mourning, ordered flags to fly at half-mast. The Gambian Head of state has kindly requested prayers in all mosques on Friday and all churches on Sunday for the repose of the soul of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was born on 16 May 1924 and first served the country as Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970, and then as its first President from 1970 to 1994. Jawara was born in BarajallyMacCarthy Island Division, the son of Mamma Fatty and Almami Jawara. He was educated at the Methodist Boys’ School in Bathurst and then attended Achimota College in Ghana. He trained as a veterinary surgeon at the University of Glasgow‘s School of Veterinary Medicine and then completed his training at the University of Liverpool.

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He returned to The Gambia in 1953 and married Augusta Mahoney, beginning work as a veterinary officer. He decided to enter politics and became secretary of the new People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1960 election. He became the leader of the PPP and then the country’s first Prime Minister in 1962, only the second-ever head of government following Pierre Sarr N’Jie‘s term as Chief Minister.

Under Jawara, The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. He remained as Prime Minister and Elizabeth II remained as head of state as Queen of the Gambia. In 1970, The Gambia became a republic, with no monarchy, and Jawara was elected as its first President. The greatest challenge to Jawara’s power came in 1981 when an attempted coup d’état took place and soldiers from neighbouring Senegal were forced to intervene, with 400 to 800 deaths reported by the end of the coup attempt. Following the coup attempt, Jawara and Senegalese President Abdou Diouf announced the creation of the Senegambia Confederation, but it collapsed in 1989.

Jawara continued to rule until 1994 when a coup d’état led by Yahya Jammeh seized power. Following this, he went into exile, but returned in 2002, and lived in retirement in The Gambia until his demise.


Office of The Gambia Government Spokesperson Press Release Dated: Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

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