Addis Ababa — The Gambian delegation to the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments in Addis Ababa, and other guests have celebrated President Jammeh's 48th Birthday in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.
The occasion, which took place at the luxury Sheraton Addis Hotel, brought together high-profile dignitaries from The Gambia, among them the secretary general and the head of the Civil Service, Dr. Njogu Bah, who doubles as the minister of Presidential Affairs; ministers of Basic and Secondary Education, Tourism, Trade and Regional Integration, and Foreign Affairs; Ansumana Jammeh, Gambia's ambassador to Qatar; and Dr Sarjo Jallow, Gambia's ambassador to Ethiopia and his embassy staff.
President Jammeh himself, joined by others, cut the cake just a little over midnight on Friday. The beautifully decorated cake had the president's name, Gambia flag, map of Africa and the symbol of Sheraton Hotel embossed on it.
The high point of the occasion was when the Gambian leader, dressed in his usual attractive designer white African gown with a scarf round the neck, toasted the guests, amidst a chorus of birthday songs sang by the distinguished personalities at the celebration.
In his remarks at the ceremony, the president thank the members of the Gambian delegation to the AU Summit for surprising him with a beautiful cake to celebrate his birthday.
"I want to thank you all for this wonderful surprise," he said, describing the moment as historic in the sense that this is the first time he celebrated his birthday outside the country.
He continued: "I am here because the people of Africa are greater than me, the interest of the Gambian people and the African people is more important than my birthday and that is why we are here. I wouldn't have come here if it were just a mere summit, because I have never celebrated my birthday outside of Gambia."
He equally thanked the management and staff of Sheraton Addis Hotel for their effort. "I was not expecting such a very important event like this here from the Gambian delegation. So, once again I want to thank every one of you and may the Almighty Allah give you very long happy and prosperous life, thank you very much," he added.
The Gambian leader used the joyous moment to equally thank the people of Cuba and their medical team, adding that The Gambia and Cuba have come a long way.
Speaking earlier on behalf of the First Lady of The Gambia, Fatou Lamin Faye, the minister of Basic and Secondary Education, said the occasion speaks volumes about how much love they have for President Jammeh.
"We want to pray that Allah continues to guide, protect you and give you everything that you wish for yourself. We cannot reward you but Allah can, so we thank you very much," she told the president.
Mosses Jallow, the chief of Protocol, read some of the special birthday cards dedicated to President Jammeh from loved ones and well-wishers, prominent among them the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy; and the former speaker of the National Assembly, Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay amongst others. The Presidential Affairs minister, Dr. Njogu Bah, also joined speakers before him to congratulate the Gambian leader on the occasion of his 48th birthday. He also prayed for the president's continuous good health, strength, and for his wisdom.
"We thank you all for this great idea, to show love and solidarity to our dynamic president. It goes to show that you are a member of his family. It is very much appreciated and we wish him many more years to come and celebrate with us this important day of his life," he said.
Sheikh Tijan Hydara, a former Attorney General and minister of Justice, expressed his happiness at being part of the celebrations in Ethiopia.
He said: "This is the first time you have celebrated your birthday outside The Gambia. I am very proud and happy to be part of this celebration today."
Dr Sarjo Jallow, The Gambia's ambassador to Ethiopia, said to the president:
"You are known to support the fight against poverty and to eradicate hunger, provide education and make health services accessible."
Ambassador Jallow noted that the birthday cake also carried the symbol of Sheraton Hotel and the Gambian national flag, as well as the map of the African continent, which symbolises the need for oneness among Africans.
Hon. Seedy Njie, nominated member of the National Assembly, who is among the youth delegation traveling with the president, also spoke on the occasion, which was moderated by Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, the minister of Tourism and Culture.