Irene Githinji @gitshee
Bob Collymore was fully prepared for his death and by the time he passed on on Monday, he was at peace with himself and what he had achieved in his lifetime, his close friends said in their tribute to the fallen Safaricom CEO.
According to the friends, who had formed what they called “boys club”, Bob had tied every knot and ticked all his boxes.
The network of ‘boys club’ comprised media personality Jeff Koinange, Scangroup chief executive Bharat Thakrar, politician Peter Kenneth, Radio Africa Group CEO Patrick Quarcoo, businessman Ally Khan Satchu, KCB CEO Joshua Oigara, former Standard Chartered managing director Lamin Manjang and outgoing British High Commissioner Nic Hailey.
They said Bob had an infectious and attractive manner of making friends, therefore, he brought all his buddies together with ease; he fought to win.
They paid glowing tribute on a TV show hosted by Jeff Koinange on Wednesday night, a day after Bob was cremated, recounting how jovial he was through pain. Last Tuesdays, when they had their usual dinner, Bob prepared his bosom buddies for his death.
Kenneth, who was fondly referred to “as the intern”, having been the last to join the club, said he expected the usual during dinner: Pleasantries, drinks, dinner, one more round of drinks before heading home.
However, on that day when Bob welcomed them, Kenneth said the old Bob was gone. “He welcomed us warmly. We sat chatting. About 40 minutes into the dinner, he dropped the bombshell,” recalls Kenneth.
“He said, guys, I only have a couple of weeks to live, about three to four weeks,” added Kenneth.
He was very calm. The group did not register what he had just said. Bob had gone as far as planning his death. He said he would be cremated.
“Guys you know I have cancer, they (doctors) have run out of options,” said Bob.
“He explained what had happened in detail. We kept asking what was going on and he assured us that the doctors had run out of options,” Thakrar said.
Thakrar kept lowering the radio’s volume because he was completely thrown off by the situation.
“When Bob talked, he was so calm and soft, so you really had to listen… He assured us he was at peace,” he added. Bob’s death, however, did not take weeks, it just took days
Bob asked them not to mourn and served them a special blend of whiskey and insisted that they should all drink to it.
“I did not call you here to mourn,” he said opening a bottle of a special brand of Johnie Walker.
Thakrar recalls that Bob took pictures of the whiskey and asked his pals to cheer to it.
“It was difficult for us to just sit there. This man is dying soon and he is calmly opening his best bland of whiskey,” said Thakrar. Then Bob said: “ I am not going anywhere with this stuff (whiskey).”
“That was Quarcoo’s first sip of whiskey. Even Bob took it,” said Thakrar. On the fateful Tuesday, Koinange had sent a text saying he would not make it to dinner but Kenneth called him back, telling him that he had to go.
When he arrived, Koinange found his friends in a very sombre mood. They later left Bob’s residence.
Bob would then reschedule their Friday meeting to Saturday saying he felt tired.
They spent an hour with him on Saturday. He was in pain but jovial as usual. When they left, Bob looked a bit sad. It was like he knew that would be the last day he would see them.
Koinange recalled receiving a call from Bob about a month earlier with the latter saying he would not make it past July.
At the time, the Safaricom CEO was receiving blood platelets. He said the treatment was not working. There was no other option.
Kenneth said he visited Bob at Houston Hospital after the latter relapsed following a stem cell transplant.
“One of the biggest challenges was that the cancer-infected cells were working along with good ones,” said Kenneth.
However, his doctors, who are said to have been efficient, rectified the situation fast and put him on another round of chemotherapy.
“Credit to him, he understood it better than all of us, prepared himself better than we thought and was ready to go through it. If you remember on Tuesday, Bob asked us not grief, he was the one dying, not us,” said Kenneth.
Towards the end, Bob declined to leave the country. He preferred to stay with his family in his home and wait and focus on his death.
For Bob’s circle, it was not about how he died, it was about how he lived and fought until the end.