Jawara’s father Almameh Jawara was no ordinary man. Perhaps, if he were the one born in 1924, he’d have been the president, owing to his mettle and foresight. Naturally, he was the first imposing figure in the young Jawara’s life.
The first memories he recalls, of his old man, is running after him, as he takes his manly strides to the mosques early morning, his young legs, not quick enough for his father’s pace. Evidence of the foresight of Almameh Jawara manifests in his doubling as a trader and farmer. Back then, most people were only one of the two. He was as successful a farmer, as he was a trader, and he juggled them with such dexterity, even the young Jawara couldn’t help but notice, and be impressed.
The former president must have borrowed his tenacity from his father. His father owned over twenty acres of farming land, and had married up to a whopping eight wives in his life! There came a time when his success earned him some envy, and he had to defend his ownership of the land in court, but he won it in a case decided by the late Fallai Baldeh. The shop he opened in Barajally catered to the needs of the farmers. He provided them with cutlasses, fertilizers, fabrics, all of what a rural farming community might need.
The shop became so busy and his business flourished to such an extent he hired two clerks who would come from Bathurst to help him keep his stock and do the books. We deduce therein, that he was a very wealthy man. At the time, most people frowned on western education, and the senior Jawara was no exception. At the request of his friend, Pa Yoma, to let him take Jawara to Banjul for the purpose of education, both parents were apprehensive, fearing that he would lose his ways as a result.
Their fears did prove true to some extent, but he relented, and that may be the single most important decision that made Jawara rule The Gambia for thirty years. Almameh Jawara lived to the ripe old age of 79. Although it was Aja Mama Fatty who would live to see their son become president, the senior Jawara also witnessed some milestones in the life of his boy. He passed away in 1961.
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