Opposition leader Raila Odinga travelled to South Africa for Winnie Mandela’s funeral as an official representative of the Kenyan government, his office has said.
Mr Odinga, who travelled with his wife Ida Odinga, his daughter Winnie, and Kisii senator Prof Sam Ongeri, left the country on Friday for the funeral that took place on Saturday.
In signs that Mr Odinga’s role was slowly developing after the handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Orange Democratic Movement leader enjoyed treatment as the country’s representative in South Africa, and was accorded private talks with top leaders.
“The Odingas have had a close and long-time relationship with the Mandelas spanning decades. Even so, Mr Odinga is on this visit in a more official capacity, officially representing the Kenyan State and all the Peoples of the Republic of Kenya,” Mr Odinga’s aide Silas Jakakimba, who is in South said in a statement.
“That answers why his visit has received all the requisite state courtesies and officialdom both from South African government and Kenyan High Commission.”
On arrival, Mr Odinga was received by the Kenyan High Commissioner to South Africa Jean Kamau, and her team at the airport.
At the funeral, Mr Odinga met South Africa’s deputy president David Mabuza, former presidents Jacob Zuma, and Thabo Mbeki, and Mozambican High Commissioner to South Africa Paulino José Macaringue, among other dignitaries.
“It is expected that Mr Odinga will have a private courtesy call on President Cyril Ramaphosa before he jets out to Nairobi on Monday afternoon,” Mr Jakakimba said.
After the handshake, President Kenyatta is said to have directed Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, and Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata to personally deliver an invitation to Mr Odinga to address the devolution conference in Kakamega at the end of this month.
Though the meeting did not take place because of change of Mr Wamalwa’s schedule, the high-level delegation sent to his office sent tongues wagging about his new role.
As journalists waited to be briefed on the matter, Mr Odinga pulled over at his Capitol Hill office with five brand new fuel-guzzling vehicles complete with a police chase car, announcing his new-found status.
In government, there has been suggestions that Mr Odinga be named as an African Union special envoy, with an office in the AU capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to lead peace efforts in the continent.