Collymore’s death has robbed Kenya part of its “soul”, says President Kenyatta

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NAIROBI, Kenya

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta today eulogized Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Robert William Collymore as a special friend who has left huge footprints in the country.

Speaking during a memorial service for the fallen business titan, President Kenyatta said Kenya has lost part of its “soul” through the death of  the late Collymore who died of Leukemia early Monday. He has since been cremated.

“Bob loved Kenya as his own country. He loved Safaricom as his own company. We have lost part of our soul,” said President Kenyatta when he joined family, friends and the country’s top business executives at a memorial service held at the All Saints Cathedral (ACK) in Nairobi.

“Even as we celebrate his life, there is still so much pain in losing somebody we loved so much,” the President eulogised.

The Head of State remembered a three-hour afternoon meeting he recently held with Collymore where they discussed a range of issues covering the President’s legacy, and the intensified fight against corruption and the great dreams, hope and vision that the late executive had for Safaricom, which he had served for nine years by the time of his death.

“We spent a whole afternoon together and discussed various issues,” said the President adding that it was during the meeting that Bob talked of his premonition with destiny saying he had just weeks to live.

The sombre memorial service attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair brought together tens of CEOs and Bob’s family led by his widow Mrs Wambui Collymore.

Former Vice Presidents Moody Awori, Kalonzo Musyoka,  and Musalia Mudavadi  attended the memorial service alongside a host of other political leaders.

Deputy President William Ruto said the late Collymore was a courageous leader, in a class of his own, who had become a great inspiration to many Kenyans.

“The way he did his things was a big inspiration to many Kenyans. His legacy should be carried to the future,” said the DP who said he met Bob a month before his demise.

The memorial service was characterized by an outpouring of moving tributes from family members and close confidants.

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey spoke on behalf of the diplomatic community while politician Peter Kenneth represented his close circle of friends.

His close confidants talked of Bob’s last days and narrated how the deceased had made meticulous plans ahead of his death including his choice of cremation.

Safaricom Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a, Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Joshua Oigara and Michael Joseph (currently the interim Safaricom CEO)  described Collymore as an exceptional leader and a man of great abilities who believed in fairness, diversity and inclusion even as he drove a purposeful and people-centred enterprise.

Other business leaders saluted the fallen hero as a humble, honest, transformative leader who used extraordinary leadership skills to grow Safaricom to become one of the largest telecommunications firms  in Africa.

They said Collymore made all people around him, irrespective of class and status, feel special around him, a trait that made him build trust and confidence among business partners.

The late Collymore came to Kenya in 2010 to succeed Mr Michael Joseph as the Safaricom CEO. During his tenure, Collymore rapidly grew the fortunes of Safaricom and in nine years of his stewardship, the company doubled its clientele from 15 million users in 2010  to over 32 million in 2019.

The telco’s annual returns, dividends, taxes and other obligations more than doubled during the same period.

It is also during Mr Collymore’s tenure that Safaricom strengthened its partnership with government leading to the joint implementation of mega projects in security, elections management and several other sectors of the economy.

Before his call of duty in Kenya, the late Collymore, who died aged 61, worked in several telecommunication companies in the UK, Japan and South Africa.