First president of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, has died at the age of 95, multiple privately-owned portals have reported.
President Adama Barrow has since confirmed the incident on his social media handles describing the late president’s passing as “indeed a great loss to the country in particular and humanity in general.”
They quote family sources as confirming that the nonagenarian died on Tuesday at his Fajara residence. Jawara is celebrated in the tiny West African nation as an independence hero having led the country’s liberation from British rule in 1965.
He first served as Gambian Prime Minister between 1965 and 1970 before he was democratically elected as President. He was ousted in 1994 in a bloodless coup led by then 23-year-old Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh, now exiled in Equatorial Guinea, will go on to transit from a military ruler to a civilian leader under the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, (APRC). He ruled the country for 22 years winning 4 elections during the period.
After his overthrow in 1994, Jawara left the country to the United Kingdom and only returned in 2002. Jammeh now in exile in Equatorial Guinea became the second President of the Gambia, whiles his successor, Adama Barrow becomes the third.
Incumbent President Adama Barrow and the first leader, Sir Dawda Jawara sandwich the Jammeh regime which was reportedly characterized by rights abuse and largely deemed as autocratic. Jammeh agreed to leave the country after threats of military intervention by ECOWAS.
Jawara was born in Barajally, MacCarthy 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.
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.