A light mood filled Mombasa on Monday when ODM leader Raila Odinga celebrated his birthday with President Uhuru Kenyatta, another mark of their new friendship since their handshake on March 9, 2018.
The president was pictured helping the Orange Democratic Movement leader cut his cake, flanked by his wife Ida and daughter Rosemary Odinga, at his Nyali house. Mr Odinga turned 74.
Leaders proceeded to Mr Odinga’s home after President Kenyatta visited Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at his office and launched the Mama Ngina waterfront project, which cost Sh460 million.
During the launch, President Kenyatta said “leo ni birthday ya wengine”, while ending his speech while Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala thrilled the crowd when he said Mr Odinga had turned “only 54″ and that he was a millennial.
Mr Balala and Governor Joho led the crowd in singing the birthday song for Mr Odinga as President Kenyatta and other dignitaries watched.
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Baba, happy birthday to you,” they sang.
The governor had not mentioned Mr Odinga while recognising other leaders but later explained that he wanted to do “something special” for a person he views as his political demigod.
Mr Odinga is a principal of the National Super Alliance and the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
The president said, “I am happy to be in Mombasa with my brother Raila Odinga. I wish him a happy birthday.”
The ODM leader earlier cut a cake at governor Joho’s Treasury Square office and shared it with his coast lieutenants.
He cut it with Mr Joho and Likoni member of parliament Mishi Mboko in the presence of a number of coast politicians.
Before his speech, Mr Odinga thanked the leaders and the public for the birthday wishes – pictures of the celebrations were shared on social media.
There was laughter when he ‘released’ a rendition of the birthday song, saying “I went to the zoo, I saw a fat monkey.”
On a light note, President Kenyatta noted that he had about three days before the end of his holiday. He said he will enjoy them.
Among those who attended the ceremony were Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko; Senators Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Mohammed Faki (Mombasa) and Issa Boy (Kwale); and MPs Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Badi Twalib (Jomvu) and Ken Chonga (Kilifi South).
Also present were county woman representatives Aisha Mohammed (Mombasa), Ruwida Obbo (Lamu) and Zulekha Juma (Kwale).
Other than Mr Twalibm, coastal region MPs coalescing around Mr Ruto gave the events a wide berth.