Safaricom PLC is in mourning and so is the whole Country, a legend has gone to sleep and Kenyans cannot hide their tears and grief as Safaricom chairman, Nicholas Nganga, has confirmed the devastating news.
Bob, who is a Guyanese-born British businessman who married and lived in Kenya up to the time he has met his death on the morning of 1st July 2019 after a long battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia which had seen him take a medical leave in October 2017.
Bob Battles Cancer
Bob Collymore began battling cancer in 2017 with a misdiagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency. During an interview with a local television network, Bob said he experienced Pain in the bones of his shin, flu-like symptoms and fevers which unfortunately led to the misdiagnosis.
Bob sought the second opinion from Nairobi hospital’s Doctor Silverstein who ran a series of about 30 different blood tests which he said cost him 100,000 shillings, a clear picture of Kenya’s unaffordable healthcare system.
The results did not help establish what was ailing the good CEO but Dr. Silverstein was obviously alarmed by something as he admitted Bob at the Nairobi Hospital.
Bob Collymore acknowledged on a television interview that his admission at Nairobi Hospital marked the first day for him to have ever been admitted in a hospital.
Doctor Silverstein ordered that a bone marrow procedure called the bone marrow aspiration be done on Bob and the results led the good doctor to the conclusion that Bob’s blood had an issue.
Doctor Silverstein recommended that Bob flew to the United Kingdom to meet a specialist.
The Doctor’s recommendation came at a time when Safaricom had elections and the company was closing the year in a week’s time, Bob wished not to miss this and suggested to travel in a weeks’ time, as he revealed in a local TV show, but his Doctor could hear none of it and requested that Bob flew that very same night.
Bob left the Country for the UK, on Doctor Silverstein’s recommendation, where a hematologist diagnosed him with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
AML is curable cancer that is rare but just like any cancer, the disease is easier to treat while detected early, Bob was to later learn he had had cancer for six months before the diagnosis was made.
It is Bob’s submission of ‘if you have cancer you cannot undo it’ on live television that left many with chills, fearing for the life of Kenya’s top telecommunication CEO.
Unlike before his travel to the UK when he would be spotted attending public forums and those of the telecommunication, Bob became more laid back and even acknowledged so in a local Television interview when he said his immunity had been compromised because of the cancer treatment and he had been advised by his Doctors to minimize on public forums.
Kenyans have since then thought his health was improving as his contract even got renewed and are obviously shocked of his demise going by the messages continue flowing in the social media.
Collymore has been on treatment in Kenya’s Agha Khan hospital up to the time of his death.
Bob Collymore took a bow on the 1st July 2019 while still in office as Safaricom’s CEO, throwing the telecommunication company into shock and unprecedented mourning.
President Uhuru Leads Kenyans in Mourning CEO Bob Collymore
Messages of Condolence continue streaming with President Uhuru Kenyatta leading Kenyans in mourning Bob whom they have termed as a corporate leader per excellence.
President Uhuru termed Bob as an accomplished corporate leader who has steered Safaricom to a position of great admiration as East Africa’s most profitable company.
“It is with a deep sense of loss that I have received the sad news of the death of Safaricom CEO Robert (Bob) William Collymore this morning. In this moment of great sorrow, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, relatives, friends and the staff of Safaricom,” the President said in a statement.
President Uhuru’s deputy, William Ruto, described Bob Collymore as ‘a distinguished titan, whose shrewd leadership at the helm of Safaricom was commendable’.
“Collymore was exemplary, brilliant and courageous, especially in the manner he battled cancer,” Ruto noted.
The AU’s Special Envoy Raila Odinga said the CEO served Kenya with dedication.
“My condolences go out to the friends and family of Mr. Bob Collymore as well as the entire Safaricom fraternity. Bob served our country with dedication and sustained us as a communication hub in Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace”.
Other leaders who have sent their condolences upon Bob’s death include Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiangi (Interior) and Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), industrialist Chris Kirubi, Governor Mike Sonko, and Machakos Governor, Alfred Mutua.
Bob Collymore leaves behind a wife, Wambui Kamiru, and four children.