Dawda Jawara

Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara[1] GCMG (16 May 1924 – 27 August 2019[2][3]) was a Gambian politician who served as Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970, and then as the first President of the Gambia from 1970 to 1994.

Sir Dawda Jawara

Jawara in 1979
1st President of the Gambia
In office
24 April 1970  22 July 1994
Vice PresidentSheriff Mustapha Dibba
Assan Musa Camara
Alhajie Alieu Badara Njie
Bakary Bunja Darbo
Saihou Sabally
Preceded byElizabeth II
as Queen of the Gambia
Succeeded byYahya Jammeh
Vice President of Senegambia
In office
12 December 1981  30 September 1989
PresidentAbdou Diouf
Prime Minister of the Gambia
In office
12 June 1962  24 April 1970
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byPierre Sarr N'Jie
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born(1924-05-16)16 May 1924
Barajally, MacCarthy Island Division, British Gambia
Died27 August 2019(2019-08-27) (aged 95)
Bakau, Fajara, The Gambia
Political partyPeople’s Progressive Party (PPP)
Spouse(s)Augusta Jawara (1955–1967)

Lady Chilel Jawara (1968–2019)

Lady Njaimeh Jawara (1970–2019)
ChildrenBolumbo Jawara (b. 1978)
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
University of Liverpool

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.

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 death.