By: Momodou Camara
RE: SALUTE SIR DAWDA-THE UNIFIER AND BEACON OF TRIBAL HARMONY
Allow me to quote from Marc Antony in his speech at the Burial of Julius Caesar and its relevance to Gambians and friends of The Gambia at such a sad moment in our history! It is indeed a time of reflection and stocktaking as we stood on the threshold of building yet again a new country, yet again a new democracy in the numbering of say The Third Republic. Marc Antony wrote: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus. Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest. For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men. Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious;And Brutus is an honourable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome. Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man. You all did see that on the Lupercal. I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man. I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him? O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.
‘We are here to bury Caesar and not praise him” and those are the words I want to pick from the speech above and its relevance to our loss today. I am here in The Gambia and not Rome and I am in 2019 and not 44 BC so please allow me to praise SIR DAWDA KAIRABA JAWARA. Little professional knowledge do we have or keep about Sir Dawda but we read a lot about him as students. As President and Head of State of our country for a score and a decade and some years we are bound and duty bound to know and research about Sir Dawda. This task was not a difficult one as he was only one, meaning singular to research and discover. In the frame and figments of a budding school leaver who just finish Form Five from Armitage High School with nine (9) credits in the Summer of 1993 it was appetizing to know more about Sir Dawda-The Father of The Nation. However, before corn turn into ‘larcheree’ or finding a stable job, Jammeh Musa came to propagate his ‘BABILI MANSA’ Agenda and lofty programmes. The rest is history! Sir Dawda hails from Barajally, a rice growing community on the North Bank of Central River Division with its Headquarter at Georgetown in the Maccarthy Island Division as we used to know. Barajally is predominantly Mandinka speaking and dominated village and its inhabitants are very religious and with a hardworking womenfolk. Sir Dawda came to town and beat all the odds be it city slicker dreams or professional demands to the Presidency. The rest you can find in your history books and in his biography. Sir Dawda simply rose above the odds and established himself as a leader and President for all Gambians. He brought to us ‘PROTECTORATE PEOPLE’S PARTY which later became The PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE’S PARTY when the job was done and dusted on UP and PS NJIE. This was the same that great legal minds coined the APRC from the AFPRC for Jammeh. Gambians especially all those juggling for the State House have a lot of positive strategies, thinkings, styles, make-ups, conducts, synergies, diplomacy and the rest of it to learn from Sir Dawda. In The Gambia today, all political actors who either active or retired must reflect and take a deep comprehension of the sacrifices and contributions that Sir Dawda ushered into our nation and nationhood. There were good times, bad times and great times too but after all we are one nation, one people and one tribe. Whatever, the past held in frictions, debates, fights, defeats and victories these are days of mourning and we will knowingly or unknowingly miss a great statesman in Sir Dawda. I pray our present political actors to borrow some good values and virtues from Sir Dawda in their ambitions and quest to lead us.
Despite being a village boy, he came to town and hit the streets and never fell into waywardness and never missed his focus. Sir Dawda made it and got the necessary academic and professional education to become a role model that molded countless Gambians of his time and beyond. The man epitomizes the pinnacle of religious tolerance and during his tenure we always lived in unity and harmony with our Christian brothers and sisters. Heonce married a great, god fearing Christian woman. He was a great beacon of religious tolerance and harmony. We never had two Pray Days! We never had two New Years and the rest of it. There as none like Sir Dawda in uniting the ferrous competing interests in the civil service and business hubs! Our present day politicians should and must learn from Sir Dawda for a better, peaceful,progressive and prosperous Gambia. Gambia for all and we must all remember at all times that it is not the winner takes all game. We are building a nation and all are important and all could contribute positively. Key positions in government, business, and the others must be distributed diversely taking note of our demographic sensitivities and in a balance act that will reflect all Gambians and all be represented in the pie that belongs to all Gambians home and abroad. Sir Dawda has been ridiculed by the Firebrand Activism League (FBAL)within the PPP of being soft and liberal in his beliefs and tenets of an all inclusive Gambia. His ability to neutralizethe (FBAL) paid up huge dividends for this great man of our shores. Among his most telling and accomplishedpolitical tactics were his ability to stifle the tribal activism within the ranks of the PPP and made sure all were equal and where they were different in his picking ONLY on education, qualification, demographic sway, experience, docility, ability, discipline and vision of PPP, The Gambia and Africa at large. Sir Dawda did very well in communicating his vision, mandate and mission in the simplest of the command of the English Language. He spoke very sweet English and no wonder he became SIR! When he spoke the local languages he also did it with such ease and simplicity that the messages needed no second chance interpretations as we have today with some of our TRRC testimonies. Sir Dawda was a great communicator and even PDOIS will credit him for that!
Please take a look at the likes of Hassan Musa Camara, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, the BBs, the OJs, the Kama Badjies, the Buba Baldehs, the Jean Kolly Fayes, the Saikou Saballys, the Sara Janhas, TGG Senghores, the Bensuadas of Kuntaurs and the rest of them and you will begin to understand that whosoever wishes to lead The Gambia must embrace all irrespective of name tags or choice of food? The Gambia was and will remain united and it in the interest of all those people juggling for power and positions to be all embracing, all inclusive, all inviting and encompassing. Those afro–mentioned few names occupied every covet positions in government and with great respect and success. No matter what anyone thinks, Sir Dawda was simply a great unifier and a lover of humanity and not greedy at all. It was no mistake why he was loved by all. It was no mistake why he ruled over thirty years. It was no mistake that he had namesakes in all villages across the country. It was no mistake he had his last moments on home soil surrounded by his family, friends and loved ones. It was no mistake he is celebrated. It was no mistake that all political parties will make their presences felt at his burial.
Sir Dawda did his best for the country within the confines of the resources, time and the prevailing governance dogma at the time. He never brought tribalism, he never sold the sovereignty of the country, he never provided a safe haven for drug dealers, he never grabbed lands for self enrichment, and he never built Barajally or promotesit to become the Second Capital of The Gambia. He never kept a secret squad. He never banished political opponents into the jails. He was a doyen of human rights! To this day the people who were educated during the Common Entrance Entry Exams into high schools type of assessment and preparation are better than the other brands such as the FTIs and the WASSCEes. There is to this day agricultural inputs that were bought and brought into this country under his tenure and continue to change lives in rural Gambia. We are known as the Smiling Coast and that is no mistake but it took government decision and conduct on its people to get that label and Sir Dawda played a great role in the attainment of that accolade that we all enjoy today wherever we go?
Sir Dawda cemented racial relation through many and diverse means; he relegated and suffocated tribalism and its ugly byproducts; he had vice presidents and chief of defense staff from diverse tribes; he married into other tribes; he befriended all; he ate Benchinn and loved Youssou N’dure’s Music so too Jaliba; he stayed in Banjul, the seat of Government; he proclaimed peace and practiced it; he sings the songs of the rural man; he was inexpensive to maintain; he created order and lovethrough dialogue. We will miss this great man and his presence was a guiding star for Gambia and Gambians. I hope we all learn something from his positives be it governors or governed. In this great opportunity we have while Sir Dawda left us is to be mindful of the “doogoo-doogoos” within our midst. They destroy every leader, every office and every concept is they are give chance to plant their roots. They succeeded in pushing Sir Dawda against his will at the PPP infamous rally in Jarra Soma. Be careful of “doogoo-doogoos” whether you are a manager or a President? They are the cancers of the past Gambian administration, so too the present Gambian Administration and if not tackled they will be our bane in the future Gambian Administrations.
May Heaven be Sir Dawda’s resting place! We join and enjoin the entire Gambian nation, all well meaning Gambians, his family, friends and fraternity to observe with prayers the departure of this Great Man-SIR DAWADA! We also extend our condolences to all those he worked with directly, the people of Niani, the people of Sami and the whole of CRR North. We are praying for this great man of our kin and kindred and may Allah be pleased with his contributions to humanity, Amen! Gambia will miss his prayers and presence especially going into the fever pitch jaw jaw on 3 YRS JOTNA Vs. 5 YRS CONSTITUTIONALITY and the rest of it. May peace be our name as it has been since our creation as a nation ushering our nationhood and sovereignty, Amen!