Tuesday, November 2, 2010

KAIRABA - The Autobiography of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Former President of The Republic of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara has launched a book on his autobiography entitled ‘Kairaba’ (Peace), on Saturday 10th April, 2010 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul.

Kairaba, the autobiography of Gambia’s former leader, published in 504 pages in 33 chapters, depicts the life and times of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara from his early childhood, education, as veterinary officer, Minister of Education, Prime Minister and President.

Born in a village known as Barrajally in 1924 in the Northern Central River Region, Sir Dawda in his book noted that he was educated at the Muhammedan School in Bathurst, now Banjul. He studied veterinary in Ghana on a scholarship and Edinburgh, Scotland before bagging his doctorate in veterinary. The book also highlighted his 40-year as Head of the Peoples Progressive Party and his rule as Prime Minister and Head
of State of The Gambia from 1965 to 1994.

In ‘Kairaba’, the author takes into account his tolerance, respect for democracy and the rule of law, the struggle for Independence, the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The Gambia and the Senegambia Confederation. However, the highlights of the 1981 abortive coup led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang and Yahya Jammeh’s coup d’├ętat in 1994 will arguably keep devout readers in great suspense and turning the pages down to the middle of the night.

The former, which Sir Dawda described in ‘Kairaba’ as an ‘Assault on Democracy’, almost, crippled a government with not enough security strength. However, the later in 1994 captures how he was overthrown and how he left the country in an American Navy Ship to live in exile via Dakar, Senegal and later to the United Kingdom.

It also highlights the trials and tribulations of the former Gambian leader during these periods, nonetheless, a book reviewer argued that 1994 coup led by current president, Yahya Jammeh is ‘still too recent to be ready for historical scrutiny as historians need to give time the time to become history’.

Be it as it may, taking into consideration of the significance of the event, the 1994 coup is worth being in the history books of The Gambia.

Taking into account of the most recent life of the Sir Dawda, ‘Kairaba’ gives a precise view of the events leading to his reconciliation with President Jammeh and his subsequent home coming.

Giving a review of the book, Mr. Monie Ralph Captan, former Foreign Minister of Liberia pointed out that ‘Kairaba’ captures the beauty of African culture and tradition and the life and times of Sir Dawda from the happiness of growing up and working in the farm to the exposure of western education. “This process became an essential necessity and Kairaba is a rich story of integrity, hard work, dedication and patriotism,” the President of Liberia Chamber of Commerce said.

He noted that the opportunity for leadership came at the background of his party the ‘Peoples Protectorate Party but after due consideration he changed it to the ‘Peoples Progressive Party. Mr. Captan, who is also the Chairman of GSM Company, Comium in Liberia outlined that nation building for Sir Dawda Jawara was about unifying people, adding that his autobiography coincides with the history of The Gambia. He also
noted Sir Dawda’s contribution in building the democratic process of the country, while citing that the clarion call does not depicts the smallness of Gambia but the value of its democratic principles within and outside its boundaries.

“The author’s period in exile was another milestone and a challenge to protect his achievements in democracy, solidarity, peace and integrity,” Liberia’s former Foreign Affairs Minister said.

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara giving a word as the author of ‘Kairaba’ told the gathering that the idea of writing a book came to him at the turn of the 20th century at the age of 75. “I thought of writing about the story of my life IN 1999, but it was only after seven years (in 2006) that I started my story by granting an interview as a start for gathering my book, and memories begin to flash through my mind,” Sir Dawda told a high level gathering.

He said: ‘I ventured into thorough research in order to ensure that those flashing memories are as authentic and accurate.’ “It took me 46 months to write this autobiography but I never regretted it, there is no need to blow my own trumpet though you need to hear from the horse’s mouth but in any case, I would want to
reflect on key moments in my life; the winning of the standard seven photograph; the Cooper Prize and above all, the attainment of independence,” Jawara said in his first major public statement on home soil since leaving
office in 1994.

Also speaking, the current President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh applauds Sir Dawda’s courage to bring his political career into the public space. However, President Jammeh noted that the depiction of Jawara’s politics of The Gambia in the book is his personal view of the country’s politics as former Head of State. “The country is bigger than any one person. The action (coup) was not directed to him as a person but to a
system, unfortunately he was leader of,” President Jammeh said.

The Gambian Leader, who went on a long narration of Jawara’s life at State House in Banjul when he (Jammeh) was a guard, noted that Sir Dawda was an exemplary father as Head of State, in approval of his parental care. He said that the book is very interesting as it has given us an insight of his life from a veterinary officer to a politician.

“It was like a stage, you played your part and we felt that it was necessary for us to take over and continue the act,” President Jammeh said.

However, he revealed that having leave office, Sir Dawda is still on salary for a life time and enjoys all the dues accorded to him (President Jammeh) when traveling abroad. The book is a historical testimony in assessing the current political system of The Gambia, Jammeh concluded.

The launching of the book was done by the former President of Sierra Leone, Ahmed Tijan Kabba, who noted that he could not say much on the Autobiography since he was yet to lay hand on the copy at the time.

Nonetheless, he recognised the relationship of the former and present Heads of State as a true reflection of the relative peace in the country, saying all that I have heard here are praises of either President Jammeh or Sir Dawda. However, he stressed that a lot of people only make noise and forget the younger generation and I
think their concern is the development of this country. “It is from such books that the future generation would learn how to continue the development of the country,” he said.

Other speakers include the Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, Mrs. Esther John Audu as a representative of Olisegun Obasanjo, the President of ECOWAS James Victor Gbeho and the two sons of Sir Dawda (Ebrima and Kawsu Jawara).

The book was sold to different individuals and institutions in what was called an auction to the tune of more half a million Dalasis (D590, 000) on the spot. President Jammeh himself bought D270, 000 worth of books. VOL:2 ISSN: 162

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