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Meet the President that started as a Security Guard

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From the time Adama Barrow emerged winner of the Gambian presidential elections on December 1, he had been successfully upstaged by the now former President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh.

Jammeh who had been president since 1994 when he seized power through a military coup had conceded defeat at the election but later changed his mind and held on to power, causing him to be the focus of world media attention and leaving Adama Barrow in the shadows until the swearing-in yesterday at Dakar, Senegal.

Barrow was chosen by the people of Gambia and he has received support in upholding his election victory by West African countries and the international community. So away from all the controversy that have trailed the elections, here’s a proper introduction to the third president of one of Africa’s smallest countries.

  1. Adama Barrow was selected in September 2016 to represent the coalition of seven opposition political parties at the presidential election. He was the chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP), one of the parties that made up the coalition. Prior to this time, Barrow held no political office in his country. His campaign was based on returning Gambia to the Commonwealth of Nations and the International Criminal Court. In October 2013, the Gambian government withdrew its membership of The Commonwealth saying “it had decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism”. Just like Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Adama Barrow made a promise of change to the people of Gambia and end the long-term torture and arbitrary arrests of citizens.
  2. Adama Barrow lived in the UK in the early 2000s where he worked as a security guard with the North London branch of Argos, UK’s catalogue retailer. The Guardian UK spoke to a customer who had constantly shopped in the store where Barrow worked and he said, “It seems hard to believe that he could go from that job to president. Fair play to him”.
  3. 15 years ago, Adama Barrow reportedly tackled troublemakers on the London high street where the Argos store he worked was located. His dedication to keeping the store safe led him to carrying out a citizen’s arrest on a shoplifter who was sentenced to a 6-month jail term. During his campaign, Barrow commented on his time in the UK: “Life is a process, and the UK helped me to become the person I am today. Working 15 hours a day builds a man.”
  4. Before journeying to London where he worked to save up to start his company, Barrow worked with Alhagie Musa & Sons where he rose to the position of Sales Manager. Upon his return to Africa in 2006 and after gaining a degree in Real Estate, Barrow set up his own real estate company, Majum Real Estate where he shows up actively every day as the CEO.
  5. Being a devout Muslim, Barrow is married to two wives – Fatou Bah and Sarjo Mballow – and had five children until one of his sons died from a dog bite few days before the inauguration. He has said that his life and politics is guided by faith and his religion is his biggest influence.
  6. Adama Barrow is not all about work, family and faith. During his stay in the UK, he developed an interest in Arsenal Football Club and has since been an ardent follower. Less than two weeks ago, despite the rouse surrounding his election, Barrow took to Twitter to share a photo of himself wearing the Arsenal football jersey and a broad smile. His caption read, “You can change your politics, but never can you change your favourite football team! Thank you – @Arsenal #Gambia #Arsenal
  7. President Adama Barrow was born in 1965 to Mamudu Barrow and Kaddijatou Jallow, in a riverside village of Mankamang Kunda near a town called Basse, only a day before Gambia gained independence. He attended Koba Kunda Primary School then Crab Island Secondary School. Barrow obtained scholarship to further his education at Muslim High School.

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