The late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore was many things to many people but one thing that everyone seems to agree on is the fact that he was a man of tremendous character.
Bob passed away on Monday, July 1, after losing a brave battle to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells.
The rare form of cancer struck the CEO two years ago, prompting him to take a rather forced leave from his demanding job to seek advanced treatment in the UK.
However, despite his bubbly demeanour and infectious high spirits, Bob had long come to terms with the fact that his demise was closer than he let on to the public.
As a matter of fact, TV host Jeff Koinange in the very first interview since Bob’s death, revealed the fallen CEO usually joked that he learnt to “make friends” with the dreaded disease because it was at an incurable stage.
A number of close friends and family, during his memorial service on Thursday, July 4, revealed a number of things the 61-year old did in preparation for death.
1. Choice of cremation immediately after his death
Bob was very particular on how he wanted to be sent off and he was cremated on Tuesday, July 2, barely 36 hours after his passing.
During his speech, former presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth revealed Bob had mapped out exactly how he wanted his final sendoff to be and one of his specifications was “No politicians”.
That would explain why the cremation ceremony was a low key affair attended solely by family and close friends.
2. Issuing final messages to close friends and family
The CEO had already prepared his close friends for the eventuality after doctors told him he would be lucky if he made it past July 2019.
3. Taking a backseat as Safaricom CEO
Known to very few, telecommunications giant Safaricom was hunting for a new CEO despite the fact that Bob’s contract was extended for another year to end in 2020.
4. Final conversation with President Uhuru Kenyatta
Because the government holds quite a large share in Safaricom, it was only right for Bob to have a candid conversation with the president on why he could not continue as CEO.
Uhuru, during the memorial service, revealed he talked to Bob who revealed his ticking clock, as he mapped out his vision for the company even after his death.
5. Choice of dirge to be played during his memorial service
Bob, who has been described by his close friends as a very effective human, left little to chance in the event of his demise as he even had a hymn in place to be played during his memorial.
The late’s wife Wambui told the church that Bob actually requested an eight minute hymn as a means to pay respects to him rather than the typical minute’s silence.
“Ordinarily, when we pay respects to those we love, we give one minute of silence, Bob has chosen to give us all 8 minutes of music.
He chose the piece, Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber for his memorial and as a gift to you all,” Wambui Collymore revealed.
6. Joint eulogy poem with Michael Joseph
Safaricom CEO on interim basis Michael Joseph read a teary poem from the late Bob during the memorial where it shed more light on where his mind was ahead of his final breath.
Joseph revealed he had a pact with the late Collymore.
“Bob and I agreed that whoever would survive the other, they would read this poem at the other’s funeral…I am sad and heart broken to be the one reading this poem today… To the man I loved, fare well my friend”
7. Saturday tea invite of the Boys’ Club
A lively Bob invited a number of his “boys” to a tea session on Saturday, June 29, where geared them up for his impending death.
The likes of Jeff Koinange were long prepared for his death, although they planned to visit him again sometime on Thursday, July 4.
During the final visit, Bob and the boys enjoyed a specially kept whisky which they toasted to and when it was time to leave, he insisted on seeing his visitors off despite being in some discomfort.
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