By Prudence Minayo
Ali Hassan Joho is the current governor of Mombasa county and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) deputy party leader. He is a vocal politician who is unafraid to express his views. He is considered as a political kingpin in the coastal region.
The stylish governor was born on 26th February 1976.
The city governor lost his mother a while ago but in an interview with Churchill revealed his father was still alive. He said his father used to work at the Kenya Ports Authority and is still quite strong. He has an elder brother named Abubakar Joho and two sisters.
The governor is married to Madina Hassan Joho with whom he has four children.
He attended Tom Mboya Primary School but his education was interrupted for a year due to lack of school fees. Joho went on to join Serani Secondary School and when he was in Form 3, he took odd jobs to earn a living. The Governor worked at the port where he carried luggage on his back and later found more ways to earn a living when Somalia plunged into civil war. He would help them sell a number of items which turned him into a very good salesman.
In an interview with Daniel Ndambuki, the governor told the funnyman:
“I used to carry heavy sacks whenever goods entered the port. I remember that is how I met Somalis who used to import stuff to Kenya and promised myself that I would never be employed,” he shared.
Joho added that his principal understood when he went to school looking all shabby:
“From school, I used to work. At some point, I even had some kind of agreement with the principal because my background is different, probably from all the other kids here, so you must allow me space to be able to do certain things. Like don’t judge me with my uniform, if I come sometimes dirty, just understand,” he revealed.
For his university, he is said to have studied first at Kampala university then Gretsa University in Thika.
Joho’s entry into politics took place in 2002 and in 2004 he became the Kisauni party chairman for the Liberal Democratic Party.
In 2007, he campaigned for the Kisauni parliamentary seat and won under the Orange Democratic Movement. In the aftermath of the elections, he was also elected assistant Minister for transport in the grand coalition government.
On 4th March 2013, he was elected the first governor of Mombasa country. His rival moved to court to block his swearing in alleging that rigging occured in the elections. His petition was denied and the swearing in went on.
In 2017, he successfully defended his political seat and was elected governor of Mombasa county for the second term.
In 2017, allegations emerged that his secondary and university academic certificates were falsified. Reports indicated that he scored a D- in the 1993 KCSE Examination and not a C+ in 1992. This shone a spotlight on the degree he received at Gretsa University as the minimum entry for a degree is a C+. According to Business Daily, Kuria Thuo- the Vice Chancellor of Gretsa, said the governor graduated with a degree in Commerce in 2016. Following these claims, several cases were brought against him just before the 2017 general elections.
In October 2017, the high court barred the state from investigating and subsequently prosecuting him for falsifying his academic certificates. The court said if the case continues, that will be harassing the governor. The court also faulted the authorities on its timing to initiate a probe against the governor.
In 2020, the Governor came clean and admitted to scoring a D- in KCSE.
“I got a D- when I sat for my exams in 1993. This should not be used to mock me. Instead, it should be used to encourage those who failed in their exams that grades will not determine their future,” the governor said.
Disputing Drug Allegations
Rumors about Joho being involved in the illicit drug trade made news again after his Nandi counterpart Stephen Sang demanded that he be investigated. However, there has never been evidence to prove these reports. In 2019, The Standard also reported the Nandi Governor had written a demand letter to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji demanding prosecution of Joho and his brother on drug trafficking allegations. These allegations began making rounds even before he was elected governor.
In 2016, during an interview with KTN, he expressed how it was unfortunate that people would seek to destroy him by linking him to drugs. He said when the allegations first came out, it was a trying time for him and his family but they overcame it. The Mombasa county boss also added that the issue had already been dealt with even before the 10th parliament came to an end.
Contempt of court
On 21st May 2021, Joho was sentenced to 60 days in jail or a Ksh250,000 fine for contempt of court. The judgement was delivered by Justice Munyao Sila who observed that despite being found culpable, he did not show remorse.
“There is no much remorse in Mr. Hassan Joho’s mitigation statement, his apparent lack of remorse is very perturbing to this court,” remarked the judge.
He was to appear in court following a complaint made by steel billionaire Ashok Doshi. Ashok Doshi said he owned a piece of land in Changamwe which was raided by Mombasa county officers who left it in chaos and damage.
Governor Ali Hassan has on a few occasions been the talk of the internet following alleged affairs with popular celebrities. At one point, media personality Betty Kyallo came out to say she had a relationship with the governor. This was after her marriage with Dennis Okari began to go South. In 2020, he was also linked to popular influencer Natalie Tewa. Many people started rumors of them having an affair over something as simple as a handbag and lyrics. The story gained momentum after an expose by blogger Edgar Obare.
In 2016, his security detail was withdrawn by the government. Joho later said in an interview that afterwards he was also asked to surrender his firearm. He refused as he did not know why they suddenly removed his security then asked him to surrender his firearm. About 8 months later, the security was reinstated but it was reported by Citizen TV digital that he declined saying it was a plan to eliminate him. Many thought it was his fearlessness in attacking the government that led to the removal of his security.