Jeff Koinange has painted a candid picture of who the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore was away from the limelight and the boardroom.
“His passion for the poor and downtrodden, his compassion for victims of various violent crimes, his devotion to his job and later the MPESA Foundation (which was his and MJ’s brainchild) showed that he was out to put his money where his mouth was,” Jeff said.
“And when it came to his job and his role, he did that with diligence and devotion. He knew he had huge shoes to fill and he wasn’t coy about it. “I can never wear Michel’s shoes,” he once said. “I’m going to wear my own shoes.” And he did, transforming Safaricom One-Point-Oh to what he called Two-Point-Oh and taking it to greater heights than many of his critics would ever have imagined.”
Jeff continued, “But to us (we would meet regularly as a group of five to seven friends), he was just Bob or Kihara or just plain BC. He loved his Jazz Music, openly scowled at my love for Country Music (this, I’ll never know why) and he never failed to listen and more so speak his mind.”
Read the rest of Jef’s tribute to his pal.
He was full of life when surrounded by children, always making time to listen to them no matter their ages. Bob lived life to the fullest and dedicated his life first to family and then his profession.
Bob travelled widely, dined with Kings and Princes, Presidents and High-Level Executives and then he’d come home and ride in Matatus with Juliani to visit the poor in slums like Huruma and Mathare, Mukuru and Majengo.
Bob was the ultimate people person. He must have taken a million selfies in the streets of many Capitals, always accommodating, always smiling that broad smile of his.
Two days before he died, our group went to his house to hang out with him. As usual, that broad smile greeted us at the door. He was in pain. We could see that. He said his spine was ‘killing’ him but he walked us in, his back straight as a rod. We sat down and me being the youngest served everyone with drinks.
Bob’s wife, Wambui brought him some herbal tea. He talked and talked.
“I’ve lived a great life, Gents,” he said, “I’ve made mistakes but I rectified them. That’s what you guys have to do. Rectify your mistakes otherwise, you will have learnt nothing from life.” He talked some more, “Thanks for being there for me. You guys are my real friends.”
We sat there and listened and none of us spoke. Occasionally he would get up and stretch his back. “My spine hurts like hell,” he said. One of us asked him if he wanted a pain killer. He refused. Bob was like that. A fighter to the very end.
Two hours later we decided to leave him so he could get some rest. He got up on his painful back and walked us all to the door. “See you in a few days, BC,” we said. That was the last time we saw him.
That was my last memory of Kihara….. at his front door waving goodbye to us. It’s like he knew deep down inside that it was the last time we would see each other on this earth.
Rest with the Angels, my Friend. So long for now and we’ll see you when we get there.
Jeff Koinange, Friend of Bob ‘Kihara’ Collymore.