Hundreds of mourners, friends, and family of the late Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore Thursday gathered at the All Saints Cathedral for his memorial service to pay their tributes.
The memorial was graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the First Lady Margaret, Deputy President William Ruto, Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair, former vice-presidents Moody Awori, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka among other dignitaries.
Wambui Kamiru, the widow gave the following tribute to her husband:
‘Bob liked to quote his Excellency John Mahama [former Ghanaian president] who once told him of power and succession; that one must live when the applause is loudest.
Bob left when the applause was loudest.
Bob was a different sort of person.
On Tuesday, as our convoy made its way to Kariokor for Bob’s cremation, an elderly gentleman in a bright orange jacket stood on the side of the road, raised his right hand in the air and saluted.
As our convoy slowed down, he shouted, ‘Bob, we love you, you have done well. Go well, Bob.’
It’s someone that I will probably never meet again. A Kenyan like myself who felt that his duty that morning was to stand on the side of the road and announce to the world that Bob had left a mark in his life, nothing more.’
Kamiru read a speech former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore gave to young children from 2013.
‘I’ve adapted it a little to suit today’s’ celebration.
The powerful words in the speech were,
A person is a person no matter how small.
Sometimes all you need to do is speak up when you think something is not fair. Speaking up is the basic idea of activism. Speaking out is one way of making things right, doing what we can is another way.
We can do a lot by being considerate of our friends and family, our neighbours and our little brothers and sisters and our surroundings. We need to remember to see each other. To say hello and to say thank you.
Being considerate means caring, how you treat yourself, others and what’s around you. You have to be gentle… He was so big that he couldn’t see little people. He was so gentle and this is what saved him.
Being kind and considerate to others can make you stand out in an outstanding way.
As you begin to shine, you’ll meet more and more people who will not like you. There will be those who will envy you, those who make fun of you, those who try to make you feel guilty for being who you are. So here’s my advice,
Never be ashamed of who you are. Never apologize for what you have. Never let people decide how you should feel about yourself. Be proud of yourself and achievements. Believe in yourself first…’
Ordinarily when we pay respect to those we love we give one minute of silence. Bob has chosen to give us 8 minutes of music. The piece I’m about to play Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber was his request for his memorial and a gift for you all,’ she concluded.
I am overwhelmed by all the love and beautiful messages I have been receiving from you all here. It is a true testament to the character of the special man I was lucky to love. I can't respond to all your messages but know that I have read and received your warmth. Thank you.
— Wambui K. Collymore (@WambuiKamiru) July 3, 2019
Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Joshua Oigara read the lates’ eulogy.
“He found the perfect medium that allowed him to explore how to create more opportunities for young children through music,” he said.
“He successfully founded the Safaricom International Jazz Festival and would cherish the opportunity to award-winning international acts alongside Kenyan jazz musicians,”
Interim Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Michael Joseph, described the late as the bravest man he ever met.
“Bob was the bravest man I ever met. He faced the indignities of bounds of injections, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, constant tests and examinations, pain and in the end death with an enormous sense of humor and resilience,” he said.
“He was so concerned about his family, his team and even his doctors. He didn’t want anyone to worry about him; he wanted to worry about everybody else.”
President Kenyatta said Kenya has lost part of its “soul” through the death of the late Collymore. President Uhuru described Collymore as a man who truly lived life in service of not just himself, his family but of society.
“Bob was a man born in Guyanayes.. but finally set foot and settled in Kenya 10 years ago. He has made a greater contribution than many who were born, bred and lived in Kenya all their lives,” he said.
“Bob loved Kenya as his own country. He loved Safaricom as his own company. We have lost part of our soul… Even as we celebrate his life, there is still so much pain in losing somebody we loved so much,” the President said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Bob was a great human being; a perfect example of how a good life can be led.
“Bob was a great leader because he was unafraid to take up positions, unafraid to stand up for what he believed in and because he got things done and countered challenges positively,” Blair said.
Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said Bob as the chief executive at Safaricom had been remarkable.
“… the bar had been set high, success was no obvious, the fear of failure would have compromised many leaders…but for the nine years it has been remarkable,” said Mr Read.
.@thibaudrerolle I am extremely privileged to have walked alongside such a great leader. And I will continue to build on the 3 pillars that you taught me of #Excellence #Humanity and #Integrity. You have transformed my life and made the world and Kenya a ‘beta’ place. Asante Bob! pic.twitter.com/RnoCZZJK4O
— Safaricom PLC (@SafaricomPLC) July 4, 2019
“Bob was a great human being and a good example of how a good life should be led. Bob was a great leader because he was unafraid to take positions, unafraid to stand up for what he believed,” said Tony Blair, Former UK Prime Minister.
Collymore died of cancer of the blood on Monday. He was cremated at Kariokor Hindu Crematorium, Nairobi on Tuesday.