My chapter is closed! How Collymore broke news about his impending death to Uhuru

By Brian Okoth On Thu, 4 Jul, 2019 19:24 | 3 mins read
The Late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (L) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) [PHOTO | COURTESY]
The Late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (L) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) [PHOTO | COURTESY]
Editor's Review
  • The Late Safaricom boss, Bob Collymore, in early June this year called President Uhuru Kenyatta to inform him of his impending death.
  • The Head of State was in Canada for a global conference on women and girls, when the telecoms giant chief, who was battling Leukemia, called to inform him that he was left with a few days on earth.
  • President Kenyatta said, in his speech at the All Saints Cathedral Thursday, that Collymore called him at “odd hours” to hint at his impending demise.
  •  
  •  

The Late Safaricom boss, Bob Collymore, in early June this year called President Uhuru Kenyatta to inform him of his impending death.

The Head of State was in Canada for a global conference on women and girls, when the telecoms giant chief, who was battling Leukemia, called to inform him that he was left with a few days on earth.

President Kenyatta said, in his speech at the All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi Thursday, that Collymore called him at “odd hours” to hint at his impending demise.

According to the president, Collymore had forgotten that he [Uhuru] had travelled and, therefore, there was a big time difference between the two nations. The countries’ time zones are seven hours apart.

“On the first day, Bob Collymore called [me on phone] at 2am, and I did not pick up.

“On the second day, I picked his call, and asked him: ‘Bob, why are you calling me at 2 O’clock in the morning?

“He told me: ‘I had not realised it is 2am where you are’.

“Given I was traveling [at the time], I told him: ‘Can I call you back later?’ said President Kenyatta.

“Bob told me what he wanted to share with me was urgent, but it could wait until I return to Kenya.

“[I, however, urged him to speak], and he said: ‘I made you a promise that I would hang on for another one year with Safaricom, but I think I am going to break that promise.

“I asked him: ‘Why?’ He said: ‘We will talk about it when I return to Kenya’.

“I started asking myself a couple of questions,” said President Kenyatta.

“[In the process], Bob made this disclaimer: ‘Please, do not tell anybody else what I have told you. We will talk when you return [to Kenya].”

After the 3-day conference ended, President Kenyatta returned to Kenya.

“So, I get back to Kenya and give Bob a call. [Later], I went over to his house. I found him [seated] there looking calm.

“He told me everything was okay, but [insisted] he was going to break his promise. He said it with a smile on his face, and I told him: ‘Wambui has put you under pressure?’

“He responded, saying: ‘I do not think Wambui would allow me [to be under any kind of pressure]’.

“I further joked: ‘But she has succeeded, right?’

“He told me: ‘No!”

“He then told me: ‘I do not think I have many more weeks to live’.

“I told him: ‘There are still a lot of things we can try and do; how can we help you?’

“He said: ‘No, I have given up; I have tried everything, but I have accepted that my time has come’.

“So, we spent a whole afternoon there,” said President Kenyatta.

“I asked him why he was talking to me about Safaricom instead of himself. He said: ‘No, my chapter is closed, and I have accepted it. All I want to know is how the future of this company will look like; what is its future? What is going to happen?’

“We spent almost three to four hours talking about nothing else, but his vision and dreams for the company.

“He also told me what I should focus on in my legacy [agenda].

“At the end of the day, I said: ‘Bob, are you sure you want to continue with this conversation on [Safaricom future and my legacy agenda]?’ He said: ‘Yes’.

“After that, I asked him: ‘What can I do for you? He said: ‘You cannot do anything for me; I have sorted out my life; I have sorted out my issues… the only thing you can do for me, is make sure that you all take care of Wambui and the kids; that is all I want, and I am not interested in anything else,” said Uhuru.

The president said he was “disappointed” he did not manage to go back to Collymore’s place a few days to his death.

“I was supposed to go back and pick something that had been reserved for a special friend, [but I did not],” said Uhuru.

The Head of State eulogised the Late Bob Collymore as a “passionate friend”, who “is a part of our soul”.

Bob Collymore died aged 61 on Monday, July 1, after a spirited 2-year battle with blood cancer.

The Safaricom boss, who is survived by a wife – Wambui Kamiru-Collymore –  and four children, was cremated on Tuesday, July 2 at the Kariokor Crematorium.